Students in the NCSSM Online class of 2022 listen to speakers during the ceremony recognizing their achievements.Watch a recording of the 2022 Online Recognition Ceremony. View our photo album from the ceremony.
North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics welcomed to its Durham campus on Sunday many of the nearly 200 NCSSM-Online seniors and recognized them in a colorful ceremony for successfully completing two years of NCSSM courses alongside their local high school curriculum. The students attended 111 high schools across 51 North Carolina counties. Each student received a certificate recognizing their achievement.
The many hues of graduation gowns in their home high school colors worn by the students vividly represented the diversity of experience students brought to the program. And though NCSSM was but a part of their broader high school experience, the challenges they shared in their coursework and the moments they spent together in special on-campus events served as a bonding agent that will last decades.
Just two days before, Gabrielle Long had graduated from Roanoke Rapids High School. Her experience in NCSSM-Online had positioned her well as she looked to her future, she said: “I definitely had to learn to adapt to a bunch of new changes, and I feel like I’m better prepared to go off to [college] now, now that I have a better understanding of how to do work virtually, especially being dual enrolled at Science and Math.”NCSSM’s chancellor, Dr. Todd Roberts, addresses the NCSSM Online class of 2022.
For Brandon McKoy of Chatham Charter School in Siler City, NCSSM-Online expanded his approach to learning.
“It was a lot of changing how I viewed school and delving deeper into how I do my assignments and not just doing them on a surface level, but actually being innovative and ingenuitive as the baseline for my assignments, not just something that I do if I wanted to do more. It set a good baseline for me and taught me a lot of discipline.”
In his address to the students, NCSSM Chancellor Dr. Todd Roberts challenged students to look forward, even in the face of adversity and uncertainty.
“Living now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is within our control,” he said. “It is how you frame your perspective and actions. It can be pretty easy to let the world around us and all the negativity that we face on a daily basis shape our perspective, but I encourage you to look for the brighter side in things and people and particularly in yourselves. Take the time to celebrate and recognize what you do and accomplish. Be compassionate and forgiving with yourself and show yourself love. In doing this, you increase your capacity to do this for others.”
Sashank Ganapathiraju of Green Hope High School in Cary delivered the student address. In his remarks he spoke of the payoff from enrolling in NCSSM-Online.
“Three years ago,” he said, “we made the decision to apply to this school. … We studied hard, took our SATs and ACTs early, worked on our extracurriculars, and pondered to find suitable and legitimate answers to our essay prompts, and in doing so, probably sacrificed some time that we just as easily could’ve spent hanging out with our friends like any other sophomore. We handled the questions from our parents and peers of whether or not we would be able to manage the workload, and we ignored the people who just couldn’t understand why we would ever want to do more work.
“But look at where that led us,” Ganapathiraju continued. “Look at where our late-night study sessions, our unbreakable willpower, our hours spent researching, modeling, understanding, practicing, and theorizing, and sometimes – no, a lot of the time, stressing – look at where those choices have led us today. We are here … because we have made those choices to challenge ourselves beyond our home school’s workload.”
As the ceremony drew to a close, Roberts noted the role the students played in creating a sense of family.
“The NCSSM community is a place you each help to create, a place where you feel you belong, a place where you make others feel they belong, and a place where you all make each other better than you might have been on your own,” he said. “For the Class of 2022, it is about how you have redefined what community means. You made a wonderful community together even though it has certainly been more of a challenge to do this with two very different types of experiences over the past two years. As students in our online program always do, you have more than ever demonstrated so well that community is not just about place or time, but it is about the people and what they make of it.”