Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana celebrated 13 graduating seniors last week at a small ceremony at Hammond Boys & Girls Club. In front of parents and friends, teens from Hammond, East Chicago, Gary and Lake Station wore their schools’ graduation regalia and received leather-bound Club diplomas from Boys & Girls Clubs president and CEO Ryan Smiley.
In his address, Smiley commended the grads on their accomplishments and perseverance through a tumultuous final year of high school. He advised the graduates to be kind and act with honor.
“Remember to be the best version of yourself," Smiley said.
Boys & Girls Clubs first held a graduation ceremony last year after region schools cancelled theirs due to the COVID pandemic. Smiley noted that the organization made the decision to hold the event again this year to mark the end of the teens’ tenure as Club members.
“We didn’t want the moment to pass without acknowledging the time they spent in our Clubs,” he said.
Michael Hooper, chief operating officer and president of NIPSCO, delivered the commencement address. Hooper, who also sits on Boys & Girls Clubs’ board of directors, focused his speech on the importance of leadership.
"If you want to be a good leader, you better learn how to go last. You better learn how to serve other people and admit your mistakes,” Hooper said. “You have to learn to step up because everybody is going to be looking to you.”
The event doubled as an induction into the Boys & Girls Club alumni association. Graduates recited an oath in which they vowed to serve their communities and advocate for youth in need.
For graduating, the teens received Boys & Girls Clubs branded gifts, a gift card from Professionals Advancing Local Success (PALS) and a laptop computer.
Honored at the event were Andriana Cobb, Tyriana Cobb and Madison Munoz from East Chicago; Marcus Steele, Jr., Angela Tipton and Breana Weathersby from Gary; Jamarion Evans from Hammond; and Kaymon Armour, Kethan Bradford, Jamariah Franklin, Mikayla Hall, Amarion Shareef and Mercedes Soria from Lake Station.
About Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana:
Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana has been opening doors to GREAT FUTURES for Porter and Lake County youth for over 60 years. Clubs are open after school and provide great places for youth in grades K-12 to meet friends and have fun while in a safe, supervised environment. Clubs are open during holidays and in the summer. Annual membership is only $40.00. For information on membership, volunteer opportunities, or to make a tax-deductible donation, please contact your local Club by calling (219) 764-2582 or visiting bgcgreaternwi.org. Great Futures Start HERE.