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KDES Celebrates Class of 2011

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Image: At the KDES Recognition Day Ceremony held on June 8, mistress and master of ceremonies Katherine Rickey and Ju’wan Blackwell stand in front of a photo of the KDES Tri-State champions.

At the KDES Recognition Day Ceremony held on June 8, mistress and master of ceremonies Katherine Rickey and Ju’wan Blackwell stand in front of a photo of the KDES Tri-State champions.

On June 8, teachers, staff, families, and friends gathered to celebrate the graduation of the Kendall Demonstration Elementary School (KDES) Class of 2011. Principal Nancy Berrigan applauded the honorees for all they had contributed to their school.

Ruth Reed, a KDES teacher's aide who has worked in deaf education for 26 years, was the graduation speaker. Reed attended Gallaudet University and graduated in 1980 with a bachelor's degree in sociology. During her career she has worked at both the Model Secondary School for the Deaf (MSSD) and KDES. Reed shared with the students her personal story of growing up in Chicago, Illinois. Reed shared two special accomplishments from those years-in 1962 she became first black ISD Homecoming queen and later she was the first black deaf student from ISD to go to, and graduate from, Gallaudet University. Reed concluded her remarks with personal reminisces of each of the student honorees and wished them well as they move on to high school.

Honoree Shannon Thornhill gave the farewell speech. Thornhill has made it her philosophy to never give up. She gave a moving account of growing up under tough circumstances. "I try not to keep thinking about what has happened or feel sorry for myself; instead, I accept things the way they are and move forward," she said. Thornhill plans to pursue a career in fashion design.

Many of the members of the Class of 2011 started school together in pre-school, and they were a close-knit class this year. During the awards part of the ceremony, Clerc Center assistant athletic director Nanette Virnig called first the girls basketball team members and then the boys basketball team members to the stage. When the last team member was on stage, the honoree row in the auditorium was empty-the entire class had participated on one team or the other! Not only did they participate, but both teams won the Tri-State Basketball Tournament.

Best wishes to all the KDES honorees as they leave their beloved Wildcat mascot behind. All members of the class plan to attend MSSD in the fall.