34 THE QUEENS COURIER • GRADUATION • JUNE 24, 2021 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Schools chancellor delivers keynote address at high school graduation ceremony
BY GABRIELE HOLTERMANN
Queens Technical High School celebrated
its graduating class of 2021 with a
ceremony at Citi Field on Friday, June 18.
Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter, an
alumna of Queens Tech — which is celebrating
its 100th anniversary this year
— delivered the keynote address to 230
graduating seniors and 460 family members
seated in the Delta Silver section
of the stadium in a socially distanced
Porter announced that she was delighted
to deliver the commencement speech
to the graduating class of 2021 at Citi
Field, “the home of the fi rst-place Mets,”
recalling that her graduation ceremony
30 years ago took place in a hangar
at Aviation High School.
Th e chancellor, the fi rst Black
woman at the helm of the
nation’s largest school system,
began her speech with
a shoutout to her plumbing
teacher Sean McCarthy.
Porter, one of the fi rst
two female students
Tech — or Qu e e n s
Vocational, as it was called
30 years ago — plumbing
program said that McCarthy,
who is retiring, never treated
her “like a girl” in the
“He always held me to
the same high standards
and expectations, and they
believed in me and knew we
were doing something special
together,” Porter said.
Addressing the graduates,
she said that obtaining
a high school diploma
is a major accomplishment
during the best of times, let
alone during a pandemic.
However, Porter emphasized
that despite the obstacles and heartache
that the COVID-19 pandemic created,
students managed to overcome the crisis
with “power, strength and resilience”
while facing the challenges of online
learning and helping younger siblings
maneuver the virtual classrooms along
the way, as well as the long days of studying
while taking on jobs to support their
“All of a sudden, you lost the face-toface
interactions with your classmates and
teachers. Many of us lost someone close
to us or in our communities,” Porter said.
“And yet, look at where you all are today!
You did everything you needed to do to
arrive at this moment. And we are celebrating
you for that.”
Th e chancellor drew from her life’s
journey and advised the students that life
is fi lled with surprises.
“Even though I studied to be a plumber,
I ended up following the path of my mom
and my aunt, who were teachers,” Porter
said. “I learned from both of them what
one teacher could do to change the life of
Th e chancellor also urged the students to
stand up against racism in light of the rise
in violence against minority communities.
“You can play a meaningful role in
addressing the anti-Black violence,
antisemitism, anti-Asian violence,
Islamophobia, xenophobia and homophobia
that causes harm every day. None
of us can be silent or passive in the face
of hatred and violence in all its forms,”
Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter delivers a speech at
her alma mater Queens Technical High School’s senior
Photos by Gabriele Holtermann
Citi Field hosted Queens Technical High School’s graduation ceremony on June 18.
Family members celebrate with balloons during the graduation ceremony at Citi Field.
Queens Technical High School seniors celebrate during their graduation ceremony at Citi Field on