William Penn Senior High School senior Edmund Sayki, who was born in Ghana, Africa, had made a big promise to his mother as a child.

Edmund predicted he was going to give a speech at his high school graduation.

On Friday night, there was Edmund, the valedictorian standing on the William Penn auditorium stage in his Bearcat blue robe with a mic in front of him.

"Today, my dream turned into reality," Edmund said to huge applause.

He and 123 other graduates received their York City School District diplomas as part of the class of 2013.

"You demanded excellence from us whether or not we were willing to give it," Edmund said of teachers.

The graduation was held indoors because of rain, but that venue change did little to dampen the spirits of friends and family who cheered throughout the ceremony. And students returned the favor, following up on requests of several speakers by giving family members a standing ovation for supporting them.

Featured speaker Bryan Wade, the director of the New Hustle student mentoring program, implored graduates to "believe, pray, and fight" for their careers and dreams.

"Make sure you say, 'I cannot come back home unless I have a degree,'" Wade said.

Wade said at one point this school year he met with students while dressed in a suit and tie. Two girls couldn't believe Wade was born in York City, and "that may tell you about the perception" students have of their hometown prospects.

That's why it's important, he told the class of 2013, to follow the path of graduates before them who have gone on to be leaders in business and academics.


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"You've made it. You've got to believe you're always going to make it," Wade said.

The seniors have already accomplished much, earning dozens of scholarships and getting accepted to colleges around the region. That earned the respect of board president Margie Orr, who thanked "parents for giving us all of you," and city council president Carol Hill-Evans, who said students "managed to persevere" in the face of adversity.

William Penn Senior High School Name Class of 2013

Number of graduates:

124

Graduation ceremony held:

June 7 at the high school

Class president: Nicholas Ross

Valedictorian: Edmund Sayki

Salutatorian: Tanique Thames

Other speakers:

Assistant Superintendent Eric Holmes; board president Margie Orr; principal Randy James; Bryan Wade; Mayor Kim Bracey; city council president Carol Hill-Evans