Even though it was a Monday afternoon, the sanctuary of Freewill Missionary Baptist Church in west Montgomery was full. There were mamas and daddies and brothers and sisters and friends–and 12 teenagers in the first two rows in cap and gown.
It was not an arena with thousands ready to cheer and clap. But Pomp & Circumstance filled the hall right on cue as McIntyre Comprehensive Academy held its first ever graduation ceremony on May 20, 2019. And it was not lost on most of the audience that this was as much a celebration of perseverance for the dozen young people who had already faced a lifetime of challenges just to get to this special day as anything else.
Presiding over the event, and grinning from ear to ear, was principal Sabrina Johnson. A woman who shows up for work each morning at 6:30 a.m. with a smile on her face and concern and care in her heart. She leads a faculty who have the same dedication to their jobs and young charges.
When their names were called, all graduates got a diploma and a great big hug from Sabrina. A very heart felt hug, the kind you give when you genuinely mean it. Jasmine Franklin was introduced as SGA president and gave brief remarks. Principal Johnson made a point to tell everyone that she and Sabrina had been together since the sixth grade and their journey had sometimes included some “rocky times.”
But both were determined to overcome the challenges and Sabrina told with great pride that not only had Jasmine gotten a job with a fast food company while in school, she had worked up to being a shift manager.
The success of McIntrye could not happen without partners. One being Freewill Missionary Baptist. Rev. Edward Nettles recounted how the church has furnished school uniforms, filled backpacks with food on Fridays and even bought a new washer and dryer. And he got a rousing round of applause when he announced that the church would provide $500 scholarships to any students wanting to further their education.
We too often forget that the world is saved one life at a time. That point was forcefully driven home on May 20. I was glad to be there and be reminded.