Howard Graduates Shined Despite Gang Interruption

Thursday, May 26, 2022

              I have had many career highlights, but none like the partnership that Lookout Mountain Conservancy has enjoyed with The Howard School for the past 10 years. I have gotten to know hundreds of the students, and I often walk away thinking how fantastic these students are, and yet, how misunderstood.

            May 20, 2022, is a great example. I attended The Howard School graduation at Finley Stadium. I was filled with so many emotions as I saw the 250 graduates enter the stadium. Feeling overwhelmed with excitement, joy, and pride, flooded me. Three of those graduates were interns of the Lookout Mountain Conservancy.

            An unfortunate event for any student graduating and their families occurred during graduation. A fight between gangs broke out. The police responded quickly and removed those who had no intention of celebrating the class of 2022. When I asked why the gangs were fighting, I was told to see who was the toughest. Really?

            To me, the toughest kids that were in the stadium were the graduates. They worked hard and met the requirements for graduation, which is no easy feat. They use their minds and hearts to solve problems, not their fist. By finding non-violent ways to solve problems these students are changing the trajectory of their lives.

            The Howard School is filled with exceptional students with boundless potential just waiting on their opportunity to shine. They are intelligent, innovative, and relentless in their desire for a brighter future - shame on anyone who tries to take that away.

            The leadership of The Howard School shined that night. As the gang members were being escorted out of the stadium, Dr. Ware came to the podium to remind all of us why we were there, and that we were there to celebrate the graduates.

            The graduation ended in a dignified and celebratory manner. Families cheered, celebrated, and hugged their graduates. Many families wore t-shirts with their graduates’ names printed on them. Celebratory balloons decorated the stadium. The night belonged to the graduates.

            Here’s to The Howard School Class of 2022. To the faculty who are often under-celebrated for your commitment to educating our future leaders, here’s to a job well done. To the staff and leadership of The Howard School, thank you for your dedication to education and delivering to Chattanooga this fantastic class of 2022.

Robyn Carlton

Lookout Mountain Conservancy


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