GARY — Dancing, chanting, selfies and embraces were the theme of the night for the 51 graduating seniors of Theodore Roosevelt College & Career Academy on Friday.

The graduates adjusted one another's outfits, went over speeches and danced off their nerves before being presented to family and friends.

Graduates shared advice for the underclassmen.

“When anyone tells you that you can't, that's your key word to push harder,” said National Honor Society graduate Chardinae Adams.

“No one can choose your destiny, but you stay strong and no matter what they say about you, push yourself to succeed,” Cary Martin said.

Principal Donna Henry welcomed and thanked the parents and guardians of the graduates for all of their hard work and involvement in the students' lives.

“The Class of 2016 are excellent examples of role models, mentors, and have set the bar high,” she said. “Yes, they have experienced tough times, but those moments are the very thing that has shaped them to the strong, independent individuals they are today. I know the Cass of 2016 will do great things for the world and their communities.”

School faculty member Jamie Wolverton introduced salutatorian Matayzia Hughes. Wolverton had trouble holding back tears during her introduction.

“From your current location, insert greatness as the destination of your GPS,” Hughes said. “I do not mean global positioning satellite, I mean GPS as in Great Problem Survivor. There will be great obstacles which we must overcome, but with sheer determination we will all make it.”

Valedictorian Princess Tucker expressed how making an effort to talk with the dean of students on several occasions helped change her life around.

“Previously, I attended Theodore Roosevelt Career & Technical Academy as a seventh- and eighth-grader,” Tucker said. “I personally was a mess. I tended to fight and act buck wild on a daily basis. However, when Edison Learning brought along Theodore Roosevelt College & Career Academy, I became a better individual.”

Tucker closed her speech with some final words of wisdom.

“You owe it to yourself to be the best that you can be because when you are not your best, others are less than they should or could be.”

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