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East High grads overcome adversity



Published: Fri, June 3, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

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The Vindicator ( Youngstown)

Cametreus Clardy

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The Vindicator ( Youngstown)

Miya Merchant

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Keyona Woods, East High School Class of 2011 president and salutatorian, speaks at Thursday’s commencement at Stambaugh Auditorium.

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The roughly 200 members of the East High School Class of 2011 are the first class to spend all four years at the new East, starting as freshmen in 2007, the first year the new building opened. They awaited their turn Thursday morning to walk across the Stambaugh Auditorium stage and receive diplomas.

East high school

Class of 2011

The roughly 200 members of the East High School Class of 2011 walked across the Stambaugh Auditorium stage Thursday morning to accept their diplomas. Some details:

Valedictorian: Doniece Fletcher.

Salutatorian: Keyona Woods.

Class Song: “Successful” by Drake.

Class Flower: Yellow and white tulip.

Class Motto: “Been here since 2007 — first full-blown Panthers. Good to take a lesson, so sit back because class is in session!”

Class Colors: Carolina blue and gray.

Source: Graduation program

By Denise Dick

denise_dick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Cametreus Clardy’s father was murdered when he was 3 — a victim of drug violence.

His mother raised Cametreus, 17, and his siblings alone. Four years ago, the family lost its home and moved in with Cametreus’s grandmother.

Miya Merchant, 18, watched her mother battle asthma for years before it killed her in April 2010.

Miya moved in with her aunt and uncle. Two of her siblings are with her father, and the family’s youngest lives in Pennsylvania.

But the two members of the East High School Class of 2011 didn’t allow past troubles to determine their futures.

“I refused to be one of those people who said, ‘I could have been,’” Cametreus said.

Even after the death, Miya keeps her mother in mind whenever she has a choice to make.

“That’s something that’s with me in everything — what would my mother want — in any situation, good or bad,” Miya said.

The roughly 200 members of the East High School Class of 2011 walked across the Stambaugh Auditorium stage Thursday morning to accept their diplomas. The graduates are the first class to spend all four high-school years at the new East, starting as freshmen in 2007, the first year the building opened.

Commencement keynote speaker Henrietta Williams, retired East principal, urged students to practice pride, determination and resiliency in their lives.

“Put your right hands in the air as high as you can,” she told class members. “Now reach higher. Do you see what you did? You reached higher. There’s more in you, and you can always reach higher.”

Cametreus earned a full-tuition scholarship to The Ohio State University through the Young Scholars Program. He plans to be a marine biologist.

“I want to try to help the environment,” he said.

Miya wants to be a teacher and will study education at Youngstown State University. She also joined the Air Force Reserves.

Cametreus said he decided in third or fourth grade that he wanted to concentrate on school and build a good life for himself. In sixth grade, a teacher at Volney Rogers Middle School tapped him for the Young Scholars Program, a rigorous regimen, which requires enrollees to maintain a 3.3 grade-point average and attend workshops.

It was a struggle at times. In eighth grade, his family lost its home and moved in with his grandmother.

“It was a rough time at home, and I was trying to not allow it to affect me,” he said.

His family and teachers helped him through the challenges. He mentioned Victoria Briggs, who teaches advanced placement biology, and Kenneth Andrews, an AP calculus teacher, as two of those teachers.

He also thought about others to whom his struggles pale and how they strove to succeed despite their obstacles. He mentioned Tyler Perry, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.

“I can’t hold a candle to them,” Cametreus said.

Miya wishes her mother could have been in the audience to see her get her diploma, but she knows that her mom would be proud.

She also mentioned Briggs as a teacher who helped her.

“Ms. Briggs doesn’t accept excuses,” Miya said.

Though the teacher recognizes her student’s obstacles, she doesn’t allow them to use those as excuses for poor performance, she said.

Miya chose teaching as her career because she wants to help people, too.

“I like to know that I made a difference in someone’s life,” she said.


Comments

1jgm820(115 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Good for you both! I spend the better part of my week telling young people at risk that their circumstances today do not have to dictate who they become.

Sadly, bad news makes good news though - it's great to see the positive that has always been there finally come to light!

Keep your heads up and plow ahead - best of luck with your future!

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