Caleb Mills Auditorium at Shortridge High School was at capacity Friday afternoon as loud applause and cheering greeted each of the graduates of the Class of 2019.


Student speaker Mesgana Waiss captivated the crowd with an address that shared her deep family roots extending from East Africa. She recounted the history of her grandfather, a sharecropper who stressed the importance of an education to his children, although it was denied to him.


Waiss said she entered Shortridge as a 5-foot-2-inch 98-pound freshman and became something special. She reiterated to the crowd how “average” people often do “above average things” that lead “a person to walk in greatness.”


Angela Smith-Jones, deputy mayor for economic development, inspired the graduates to “Stand upon (their) legacy of greatness” as they move forward. She asked them to find inspiration in the smallest things, which will steer them toward greatness. She also challenged graduates to innovate and improve the world, drawing laughs from the audience as she recalled what it took to roll down the windows and the innovator who invented electric windows for cars.


Principal Shane O’Day recognized the strength and diversity in this class of Shortridge graduates, paying homage to those students who transferred there from other IPS schools.


O’Day ended his remarks with a call to the class of 2019 to leave “marks and stamps” that eventually will be shared with their children and grandchildren as a symbol of the greatness of their generation.