Shontel Jackson-Taylor endured a rough two years during the coronavirus pandemic.
She teleworked for the federal government as a human resources specialist, but is now on leave without pay to help care for her father, Douglas Jackson, who had both legs amputated after being diagnosed with vascular disease.
But Jackson-Taylor smiled Tuesday inside the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro while alongside her father and mother to attend the commencement ceremony for Frederick Douglass High School’s Class of 2022.
Her daughter, Jaiden Patterson, serves as the senior class treasurer. During her high school career, she became a certified lash technician.
“This is truly amazing. Some people haven’t been able to get this experience. I’m just grateful,” Jackson-Taylor said while sporting a button of her daughter. “I’ll be smiling and crying for the whole summer. She’s my only baby.”
It had been two years since Prince George’s County Public Schools held graduation ceremonies for the various high schools at the Show Place Arena, which will host one more on Tuesday for Gwynn Park High School.
Students from College Park Academy Public Charter School had a ceremony Tuesday at the University of Maryland’s Clarice Center for the Performing Arts.
Graduation ceremonies in the county began Monday with high school seniors from Largo and Oxon Hill and continue until June 7, when Bladensburg High School.
Approximately 12 students in the Class of 2022 in the state’s second-largest school system will receive four-year, full-tuition scholarships at colleges and universities that partner with the Posse Foundation. Participating schools include Bucknell University, the University of Rochester in New York and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
At Frederick Douglass, Principal Eddie D. Scott called the senior class “resilient” after transitioning to virtual learning during the 10th-grade year amid the pandemic and impressively amassing more than $2 million in scholarships.
Seniors on the football team won a Class 2A state championship.
The basketball team lost a controversial Class 2A state championship game in March after referees determined a shot at the buzzer from Westlake counted.
Scott also proclaimed this could be the first senior class at Frederick Douglass with the most students to attend historically Black colleges and universities.
That includes Jaiden Patterson, who will continue her academic studies in the fall at North Carolina Central University, an HBCU in Durham, North Carolina.
“My grandbaby is a wonderful, wonderful individual. I know she is going to do great things,” said Donna Jackson, Jaiden’s grandmother. “I’m glad she is able to experience this with her classmates. She deserves this and I’m happy we are in the house to see this.”