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June 6, 2014

Expect big things

‘Chance that mattered,’ McLean principal says

Often, when parents enroll their children at McLean High School, they will say, “This is your last chance,” Principal Scotia Brown said during the school’s 2014 commencement program.

The parents often have the mistaken impression that McLean is for those who are on the road to being a failure. They convey to their child, “Life for you is over as we know it because you are out of chances.”

But those who have that perception are mistaken, Brown said.

As she looked at the nearly 30 graduates on the South Vigo auditorium stage Friday, she said, “We are here to serve notice that McLean was not the last chance, it was your best chance. You, our precious class of 2014, are proof that McLean is not the last chance. McLean is the chance that mattered.”

At McLean, the students took advantage of the support offered by faculty and staff; they got involved in the community; they increased leadership skills; they learned to rise to challenges and exceed their own expectations.

They may have entered McLean because of some difficulties, whether attendance issues, behavioral or attitude issues or maybe even homelessness or the need to bring money into the home. They may have lacked focus.

But at McLean, the graduating seniors overcame those difficulties and earned a diploma.

She introduced student speaker Abigail Mincey, who graduated with a 3.8 GPA and is the school’s first graduate to earn an Academic Honors Diploma.

“Class of 2014, we did it. Despite the personal, academic and motivational battles, here we are,” Mincey said.

When students would ask, “Why does this matter” or “when will we ever use this in real life,” teachers pushed them. “They saw the strength and determination buried deep within us” and helped show students their own potential, she said.

“Class of 2014, we did it, but we are nowhere near done,” Mincey said. A native of Knox County who chose to attend McLean this past year because of personal circumstances, she plans to attend Vincennes University and her goal is to become an educator.

Mincey is engaged and will get married in August. She hopes that by being the first student to graduate from McLean with an Academic Honors Diploma, it will encourage others to follow.

She praised the principal, Scotia Brown. “She stood out among any principal I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. She cared about every single one of her students and she really made you feel special,’ Mincey said.

During the commencement program, a video was shown in which faculty and staff offered advice — and occasionally used some fun — and surprising — special effects.

One teacher told students, “Don’t spend your life searching for yourself; spend it creating yourself.” She also told them, “Never give up.”

Another stated, “Don’t let graduation be your biggest accomplishment.” She also told graduates to always be respectful, honest and to enjoy life.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

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