Congratulations, Grad Nation APS Class of 2018


Congratulations 2018 Grads!

It’s late on Friday at the Georgia World Congress Center, and all of the Atlanta Public Schools’ Classes of 2018 — cheered on by happy, teary-eyed parents, caregivers and other family members, as well as teachers, principals and friends — have left the building to start the next chapter in their lives.

Once again, Operation Grad Nation was a huge success! #APSGrad18

This week – Graduation Week 2018 – we truly live the Atlanta Public Schools Mission: Graduating students ready for college and career. And as the world knows, NO ONE does graduations like APS! All 14 ceremonies were filled with so many beautiful moments when we saw our students – our community’s sons and daughters, grandchildren and godchildren, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, neighbors and friends – walk across the stage in their splendid school colors.Operation Grad Nation 2018 1

As we all come together as family to cheer our children – our newly minted graduates – into the future, it is rewarding to know that so many of these students worked so hard against some unbelievable odds. No matter the circumstances or individual stories – and yes, there are approximately 2,500 of them – they made it to the stage for graduation this week.

And these students in the Class of 2018 truly did their thing!

Operation Grad Nation 2018 2 (MJJ Dancers)They amassed more than $132 million and counting in scholarship dollars. They took over 3,400 AP/IB/Dual Enrollment courses! They increased the number of credits earned in AP/IB/Dual Enrollment courses! They, for the first time in more than 10 years, restored district level arts events such as the APS Dance Showcase, Honor Band, Honors Orchestra, Band Jamboree, and the CLL Art Gallery!  They brought home a ton of Ws with 20 region championships and 60 teams advancing to the state playoffs!

They represented everything we want to stand for at APS, and I couldn’t be more proud of them.

I have to admit that this class holds a special place in my heart, because I remember them when they first started high school four years ago, which was also my first year as Superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools. So they are my founding and inaugural four-year graduating cohort!  These are my brave baby 9th graders who began the APS Journey of Transformation with me, persevering in a time when APS was at a historic crossroads. The Class of 2018 STARTED the transformation that proves we are reclaiming APS’ proud legacy of excellence!Operation Grad Nation 2018 3 (Dr. C with Carver EC)

But their work and their lives, have only begun. Indeed, the word “commencement” is a beginning, a start. Most members of the Class of 2018 have decided to continue their education in college or technical schools. I have no doubt they will excel there as they did in high school. Some students, with their high school diplomas in hand, are off to the workforce prepared to start their careers. Others have stepped up to the challenge of protecting our nation by joining the armed services, and we are so proud of their commitment to our country.  This is truly a beginning of the next chapter of the rest of their lives and I am so proud.

Whichever paths these graduates have chosen, I can only hope that they will take all of their lessons, experiences and friendships with them. But for now, I want them to take a moment to celebrate in the works and honors they have achieved.

Well done, Class of 2018! Well done!

For all of us, APS has provided many ways to relive the spirit of graduation. Of course, the first stop is to visit our main page at for archived video and media galleries of every ceremony. My APS colleagues and I have posted hundreds of images and videos on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. My handle is @carstarphenmj; the district’s is @apsupdate.

Also, I’ve collected a sampling of my favorite new memories and have shared them in the galleries below. Enjoy! Again, congratulations to the graduates of the Class of 2018.

Charles Drew Charter School, Saturday, May 19

KIPP Atlanta Collegiate, Tuesday, May 22

Daniel McLaughlin Therrell, Tuesday, May 22

Maynard Holbrook Jackson, Tuesday, May 22

Frederick Douglass High School, Wednesday, May 23

Booker T. Washington High School, Wednesday, May 23

George Washington Carver High School /Early College/School of Technology, Thursday, May 24

Henry W. Grady High School, Thursday, May 24

North Atlanta High SchoolThursday, May 24

Alonzo Crim High School, Friday, May 25

Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy/ B.E.S.T. Academy, Friday, May 25

South Atlanta High School, Friday, May 25

Benjamin E. Mays High School, Friday, May 25

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