New York City Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter encouraged graduating seniors at Queens Technical High School to stand up to “hatred and violence in all its forms” during the school’s commencement ceremony held in Citi Field Friday afternoon.
Porter, a Queens Tech alumna, spoke to a socially distanced crowd of mask-wearing 12th graders as the class of 2021’s commencement speaker and began her speech by commending students for their resilience throughout the pandemic.
“Earning a diploma is always a major accomplishment to be honored but the added challenges you encountered and all the pain during the pandemic make this truly special and praiseworthy,” said Porter. “You have lived through two school years like no other and to make it to this point shows your power, your strength, your resilience.”
The pandemic has caused multiple hardships and disruptions for students across the five boroughs over the last year and a half from the sudden panicked switch to remote learning last March to the slow distribution of iPads to the teacher shortages caused by blended learning and the second system-wide shutdown of schools.
I was absolutely delighted to have the opportunity to celebrate with the @QueensTechHS (my alma mater! 🎓) graduating #NYCClassOf2021 at @CitiField — home of the first-place NY @Mets! Congratulations on all you have accomplished! I can’t wait to see what you do going forward. pic.twitter.com/zK6AeGuDTt
— Chancellor Meisha Porter (@DOEChancellor) June 18, 2021
“You did everything you needed to do to arrive at this moment..the long nights, the long days when you really had to work hard to concentrate. The jobs you took on to help support your families, figuring out how to make it work with school and work, helping little brothers and sisters manage remote learning, “ Porter said. “I applaud you.”
Besides dealing with the pandemic, students have had to navigate classes and the emotional toll of numerous events over the last 15 months including a series of mass protests against police brutality in the city, a contentious presidential election, an attack on the United States Capitol incited by former President Donald Trump and a striking uptick in hate crimes against Asian Americans.
“There is always work to do,” Porter told students. Now, she said, students should take the strength they have tapped into to work on fixing some of the city, and nation’s, deep-rooted problems that have been brought to greater light over the last year and a half. “We have seen and felt how inequality can literally threaten the lives in this city…we have seen and felt terrible acts of violence against targeted towards our neighbor…,” Porter said. “None of us can be silent or passive in the face of hatred and violence in all its forms. Solidarity is acting and its through our actions that we can create safety and support for one another.”