The District conducted its second annual Academic Signing Day
in tribute to scholars who have been accepted at top-tier
colleges and universities, as defined by Barron’s Guide.
Chief Executive Officer Eric Gordon saluted 288 seniors,
15 percent of the senior class, in a conference hall at the
Barbara Byrd-Bennett Professional Development Center in
Bratenahl. And that is not a complete total, only those who
whose schools sent in RSVPs for the event.
The CEO said the ceremony recognized the students’ hard work. He
also told the seniors arrayed in front of him that he came from
a rural background and was not expected to attend college, let
alone become the first in his family to finish and go on to head
a large school system.
“It was my chance. I wanted to be a teacher, that’s what I
wanted to do,” he said. “Set your sights on whatever your long
goal may be.”
Chief Academic Officer Michelle Pierre-Farid echoed
Gordon’s remarks, telling the students that college is just
another step in reaching their destinations. She urged them to
eventually return to Cleveland and “take our city to the next
The signing ceremony is part of Cleveland Goes to College,
a five-year-old initiative that points students to possibilities
beyond high school.
The District, from Gordon on down, stresses the importance of
postsecondary education, whether it be technical training or
two-year or four-year college.
The campaign is showing results -- the number of seniors honored
Wednesday was up more than 150 from last year. Karen Thompson
said that over the last five years, she also has seen a dramatic
increase in how far students are willing to travel to find the
institution that best fits their needs.
Representatives of several colleges and universities in the
Education Compact of Greater Cleveland were on hand
for the ceremony. Mayor Frank Jackson formed the compact
to help city students further their education.
Clarissa Russell, manager of regional admissions at
Eastern Michigan University, said attractive scholarship
packages for CMSD students have increased the number enrolling
at EMU from seven in 2011 to 49 last year. Russell, a CMSD
graduate, also spoke at the ceremony, urging the seniors to
enjoy the moment, then “gear up and get ready” for what’s ahead.
One by one Wednesday, students descended the aisles to accept
Pierre-Farid’s congratulations and peel their college’s or
university’s pennant from a wall for signing. Classmates voiced
approval as names, schools of choice and courses of study were
Emmanuel Patterson, who is soon to graduate from the
School of Science and Medicine at the John Hay
Campus, will enter Cleveland State University and
hopes to eventually become a radiologist. He said he was
inspired after his mother suffered a spinal fracture.
“I want to be able to help her in better ways than I can now,”
who will graduate from
School, is also going to Cleveland State, to
study mechanical engineering. He said he will probably set up
his own research and development and engineering consulting
senior Erin Grant will study nursing at Kent State
but before embarking on her career intends to perform charity
work, perhaps distributing desperately needed medical supplies
in other countries. She hasn’t decided which nursing specialty
she will choose but is leaning toward working in an emergency
“I like the rush and excitement of the ER,” she said.