Kalamazoo Central students had a big surprise

Photo by DeChelle Jones

By DeChelle Jones

June 7, 2010 was a night to remember for Kalamazoo Central High School students, staff, as well as Kalamazoo residents.

When it became time for the Kalamazoo Central commencement ceremony the University Arena at Western Michigan University was packed with approximately eight thousand people. There were thousands of people seated to see President Obama along with the Kalamazoo Central class of 2010.

Having the President visit Kalamazoo was wonderful but the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety (KDPS) had to work hard to prepare for this date.

Jeff Hadley, chief of KDPS, explained that “KDPS spent close to a full week preparing for the President’s visit. We [KDPS] partnered with the Secret Service, Western Michigan University, the Sheriff’s Office, Township Police, and Portage Police to ensure his safe arrival and exit into Kalamazoo. We made sure proper medical staff and facilities were available and accounted for any possible scenario that could take place. All in all approximately 300 plus personnel assisted in this great event,” said Hadley.

The event overall had a good outcome.

This great excitement and wonderful experience all started with a message from the White House on February 18, 2010 to all high school students across America from President Barack Obama himself. The message started off with, “I’m excited to announce the First Annual Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge.”

Kalamazoo Central’s Principal Von Washington Jr. explained that the seniors not only worked hard to graduate but also to graduate so that they could see and meet Obama.

“I believe that it [Obama coming to the graduation] had an impact on students. I believe that some of the students were already working extra hard to graduate. I believe that when they [the White House] announced that the President was coming that the students were checking grades and working hard, but they were working hard already,” said Washington.

“I think it [Obama coming to the graduation] impacted the whole community and let the world see what Kalamazoo has to offer,” said Washington.

Kalamazoo Central’s Class of 2010 seniors will have a memory to tell their children when they grow up.

“This will be a story I’ll tell my children when I get older. I mean who else can say they shook thee 1st black president’s hand and their graduation?” Said KC 2010 graduate Jesenia Forbes, “It was pretty amazing. Honestly I was one of those people who didn’t actually believe he [the president] would actually come. But when he came it was an experience I’ll never forget”

See full edition in the next Knight Life print issue coming out in late October.