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Remarkable

Remarkable

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Published by Jermain Gibson
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Published by: Jermain Gibson on Jun 24, 2013
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 24, 2013N-73, 2012-13
MAYOR BLOOMBERG AND SCHOOLS CHANCELLOR WALCOTTCELEBRATE 2013 REMARKABLE GRADUATES
178 Students and their Guests Attend the 7 
th
Annual Reception
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott today hosted areception for this year’s Remarkable Achievement Award winners and their guests at TweedCourthouse, the New York City Department of Education headquarters. This year, 178 high schoolgraduates from the Class of 2013 were awarded this distinction.“Today, more than ever, the pathway to a brighter future runs through our classroom, whichis why we have worked to improve the quality of our schools and give every student the opportunityto succeed,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Our students’ courage and determination is a true inspiration,and I want to congratulate the Chancellor’s Award for Remarkable Achievement recipients as wellas all of our high school graduates celebrating their academic achievements this week.”“One word in particular comes to mind when I think of this year’s Remarkable Graduates – resilience,” said Chancellor Walcott. “I am truly awestruck by these students’ commitment toeducation, including their capability to stay focused on graduation and move on to college eventhrough times of extreme difficulty and stress. I wish all of this year’s Remarkable AchievementAward winners the best of luck in college next year.”Since 2006, the New York City Schools Chancellor has honored students who haveovercome personal or academic challenges to earn their diplomas and continue onto college. Eachhigh school principal is asked to select one student from his or her school to receive the RemarkableAchievement Award. A selection of their stories is below:
 D’Andre Holman Turns Tragedy into Success
When D’Andre entered Pace High School as a 9
th
grader, he was a shy and quiet student whorarely spoke in class, doubted his academic skills, and sought to blend into the complex social worldof high school. When D’Andre was in 10
th
grade, he lost his mother to emphysema, and monthslater, lost the closest person in his life to cancer, his aunt.D'Andre courageously took the pain and sadness from these tragic circumstances to grant hismom and aunt their one wish for him – to graduate high school and go on to college. “He quicklylearned to live independently and become a more empathetic friend, a better student, and acontemplative thinker,” said Principal Sy. He was a transformed young man.
 
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Pace High School was a very supportive environment for D'Andre. The small schoolcommunity provided him with the emotional support he needed to get though a very difficult time inhis life. “Pace has been an incredible support system, not just for me but for other students as well.I've seen students make a complete 180 and change for the better because of the close attention thefaculty provides us. We're like one big family at Pace High School.”D’Andre, who is captain of the varsity basketball team and director of Pace’s book club, is planning to attend Iona College to study business and pursue a career in sports management.
From Foster Care to College, Demetrius Johnson Beats the Odds
Demetrius Johnson moved from foster home to foster home – over 25 in all – over the courseof his life. Demetrius was adopted at six years old by a woman who would later return him back tothe foster care system when he was thirteen. “I felt like an object being passed around,” he said.“People kept going in and out of my life. I just felt lonely, crying my eyes out every night.”With all of this tragedy and constant instability in his life, it is no surprise that Demetriusdisregarded schoolwork, turned to drugs and gangs, and eventually landed in a juvenile detentioncenter at the age of sixteen. But that’s when it finally hit him – he needed to make a change.“I said to myself, ‘If you don’t pull yourself together, you’re going to be either dead or in jail,’” Demetrius explained. “The odds were really out to get me. I decided that if I got out of  juvenile detention, I was going to turn things around.”And that is exactly what he did at Freedom Academy High School, a transfer school indowntown Brooklyn. Demetrius entered Freedom Academy with few credits and a defiant attitude, but once he realized he had the support of school administrators and teachers, he looked through anew lens on life. “People slowly started to believe in me, and I started to build confidence and became optimistic about my situation and my future,” he said. “I didn’t realize how important schoolwas until I got to Freedom Academy. They pulled me out of the darkness.”Demetrius excelled in all of his classes, but took a particular interest in math. “Trigonometrywas really hard for me – I couldn’t even do multiplication correctly when I arrived at FreedomAcademy,” he said. “But somehow, every time I would do a big math problem and get it right, I feltlike I accomplished something. Math pushes me to my limits.”Against all odds, Demetrius will attend SUNY Jefferson this coming fall. He hopes to moveon to law school and become a lawyer and advocate for children in the foster care system before2
 
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eventually becoming a judge. “Imagine when I become a judge, and after all that I’ve been through,kids in the same situation can look up to me and say, ‘If that man Demetrius Johnson can make it,why can’t I make it?’”
Faridon Azezollah Aims To Make a Difference in the World 
Behind Faridon’s dynamic personality is a tragic story. His father was murdered when hewas only 10 years old, and shortly after, his mother fell ill. Despite the tragedy, Faridoncourageously stepped up to support his family by working more than 12 hours a day at an eatery inthe Bronx throughout junior high and high school. Every weekend, Faridon would leave his home inQueens at five in the morning and take a bus and three trains to get to his job, totaling three hours of travel time each way. The hardship could have distracted him, his grief could have consumed him,and his family’s poverty could have stricken him with hopeless, but Faridon remained resilient.“I got to a point where I had to make a decision. Am I going to work at an eatery forever or am I going to make something out of my life?” Faridon said he asked himself. He would study for exams and complete school work on his commute to work every weekend. He was determined toturn his life around and become a successful individual. Faridon especially enjoyed his scienceclasses at Preparatory Academy for Writers in Queens. “My science teachers were always in tunewith the students,” he said. “They would always associate what we were learning in class to real-world examples. It helped me become more engaged and interested in what I was learning. Myscience teachers are the ones who inspired me to one day become a doctor.”Faridon is still deciding between LIU Brooklyn and York College in Queens , but he doesknow that he will become a successful neurosurgeon. “I want to help save people’s lives and makefamilies happy. I want to inspire other teens to achieve great things.”
 Johanna Tamayo Hopes to Instill the Importance of Education in Her Son
Johanna Tamayo always knew she wanted to go to college after graduating high school, andlearning she was pregnant at the age of 16 did not change her aspiration. “Teenage moms mostlydrop out from high school,” Johanna said. “I wanted to continue because I want my son to look up tome and follow in my footsteps.”The decision to stay in school was only the beginning. Johanna’s commute from StatenIsland to Aspirations Diploma Plus High School in Brooklyn took nearly two hours each way, andhaving a baby in tow made things much more complicated. “It was really hard, but my goal was toget to school and be there for my son,” she said.3

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