EducationLocalPrince George's CountyWilliam J. Ford

High School Lauds Senior Achievement in Pep Rally Atmosphere

Students inside Charles Herbert Flowers High School’s gymnasium clapped, yelled and screamed. The school’s jazz ensemble forced students and others in attendance to tap their feet on the bleachers.

The pep rally-like atmosphere, complete with the school’s step team, honored the nearly 500 seniors Friday at the school’s sixth annual Senior Signing Day.

The Prince George’s County Public Schools system and other schools nationwide celebrated high school senior academic achievements earlier in the week for students who will attend college or enroll in military academies and Career and Technological Education (CTE) programs.

However, Flowers holds its ceremony on the first Friday in May. In addition, the school in Springdale became the first school in Prince George’s to not only hold pay homage for its seniors, but organizes it into a full program where family and friends are invited.

Approximately 370 seniors will attend two-year or four-year colleges and universities who participated in community service projects, internship programs and consecutive honor roll recipients.

Vondell Waldron, a health teacher and student advisor for Peer Forward program at Charles Flowers, credits the feeder elementary and middle schools for preparing the students for high school.

“Once they come to high school, they come ready and are excited in what we have to offer,” he said. “The goal is to make students college- and career-ready.”

Emmanuel James, 17, serves as a Peer Forward mentor who assists students during lunch to apply for SAT tests and other activities.

“I really appreciate my school in doing something like this for us,” said James, who will study economics and communications at his parents’ alma mater of Bowie State University. “This is about Black culture and I’m grateful in going to college.”

During the more than 90-minute program where seniors received words of encouragement from Prince George’s County Public Schools interim CEO Monica Goldson, James and other seniors stood at a microphone and proudly announced their future plans. Some sported the college’s colors.

Victoria Lanier and 10 other seniors bound for North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro showcased the school’s blue and gold colors and chanted “Aggie Pride.”

Tremayne Orlando Jr., 17, will head in the opposite direction to the Northeast with a full scholarship to play baseball at the University of Hartford in Connecticut.

“I know there’s a lot of stuff done in recognize sports, but this shows our school is really about academic excellence,” said Tremayne, who will play shortstop and major in computer science. “I don’t know of any schools that do something this big for seniors.”

Every 11th-grade student attends so they can see parents take pictures, teachers and other staff wear their college paraphernalia and build up the excitement level on what to expect the following year.

To better prepare themselves for higher education in 2020, Nusirat Fahm and Oluwakemi Ibrahim will take dual-enrollment classes in the summer and the fall.

“Being a freshman, we didn’t really think the time was going to fly this quick,” said Nusirat, 16, who wants to stay on the East Coast to study biomedical engineering. “Now looking at [current seniors], that’s going to be us next year. We are going to be making the same decisions.”

Oluwakemi, who turned 17 on May 1, either wants to study biology and pre-med at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, or Rice University in Houston. Her goal is to become a neurosurgeon.

“This is definitely inspirational,” she said. “This one year will fly past and I’ll be graduating. It’s kind of scary, but I’m also excited.”

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail,

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