On Dec. 10, students earning their diplomas for high school and GED achievements while in the care of the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), graduated in a traditional statewide ceremony, featuring Rockdale County Chief Magistrate Judge Phinia Aten as keynote speaker.
The graduation ceremony was held at the Rockdale County Regional Youth Detention Center in Conyers, and attended by the graduates and their families and Commissioner Tyrone Oliver, the Superintendent of Schools, Zane Shelfer, the Deputy Superintendent of Schools, teaching faculty and principals of the Georgia Preparatory Academy and Pathway to Success Program, who administer to the students’ academic needs at the five regional youth detention centers represented, including the Metro, DeKalb, Gainesville, Martha K. Glaze and Rockdale Youth Detention Centers. Attendees were screened for COVID-19 symptoms, including temperature checks, and required to wear masks and sit six feet apart.
“In this chaotic and critical time of the COVID-19 pandemic, when young people all over the world are asking, ‘Is going through the rigors and effort to obtain an education still worth it? Can I still make a positive difference?’
“These graduates have answered these questions for us all, with a resounding, ‘yes,’” said Judge Aten said during her keynote remarks. “There are more circles in life than straight lines, but the most important things are to stay on the journey, build a good name for yourself and know that the power I am holding today will be yours tomorrow. So, I need you to be great. We are in this together.”
Judge Aten is a sustaining government partner with the Rockdale Regional Youth Detention Center. She has previously delivered speeches and lectures on court etiquette and black history at the Rockdale Regional Youth Detention Center, and annually donates personally curated, new book collections to the Center’s youth library.