Plenty of students will walk across graduation stages and grab high school diplomas with little notion of what’s next. Tenae Poindexter knows what she wants to do, and she’s given up her Saturdays to the cause.
Miss Poindexter, 17, will graduate from Start High today. She is also one of 129 winners of the Youth Jefferson Awards, a distinction she earned for volunteering at the Toledo Area Humane Society the past year.
Nobody made her sign up as a volunteer. She would rather spend her Saturdays in a shelter than hanging out with friends.
“It’s basically giving the animals hope for a better home and giving them a second chance,” she said.
For the first time, each of Toledo Public Schools’ eight high schools has at least one Youth Jefferson Award winner, a Leadership Toledo spokesman said. The Youth Jefferson Awards/Students In Action program is a partnership between the local agency and the national Jefferson Awards for Public Service; Toledo is one of only 16 regions that give the award to youth efforts.
“Being an active community member is a key attribute to the success of our students and ultimately that of our future leaders,” TPS Superintendent Romules Durant said in a statement.
As a volunteer, Miss Poindexter walks and grooms dogs, and does laundry and cleaning. If there’s a dog that needs extra attention, she’ll spend time with it and try to help it acclimate to people.
She will enter Stautzenberger College this fall taking pre-veterinary courses, and hopes to eventually work as a vet in a shelter.
Toledo Technology Academy kicked off the graduation season for TPS on Wednesday. Many departing seniors from the TPS magnet school have a pretty good idea what they’ll be doing in the fall.
For their senior projects, six TTA students worked at General Motors Powertrain. From November through April, they spent half of the day at the plant, until the last month of classes, when they buckled down for full-time employment. Half of the team worked to digitize the plant’s sea of paperwork, while the other half mapped out safe delivery routes on the plant floor.
“A lot of congestion was taking place on the plant floor,” student Alexis Smith said. “There are near-misses where a person is almost hit by a truck.”
Graduation ceremonies for TPS high schools continue today. Scott students will receive diplomas at noon at the school’s field house, Start students at the school’s stadium at 5 p.m., and Bowsher and Rogers students graduating at 2 and 7 p.m., respectively, at the Stranahan Theater.
This will be the first time Start has held its graduation ceremony outdoors, school leaders said.
On Friday, Woodward will hold its graduation ceremony at 10 a.m. in the school’s gymnasium, while Waite’s will be at 7:30 p.m. at the school’s field house. The district’s other magnet high school, the Toledo Early College High School, held its graduation ceremony May 20.
Staff writer Maya Averbuch contributed to this report.