Communities In Schools of Atlanta’s CEO, Frank Brown, was the commencement speaker at his alma mater, Bishop England High School, on Saturday, June 1, 2019. A proud graduate of Bishop England High School’s Class of 1991, Brown was the institution’s first African American commencement speaker at its 102nd graduation services.
Located in Charleston, S.C., Bishop England High School is an institution of the Catholic Church and its mission is to foster a faith community characterized by the Gospel message of mutual respect and charity.
Bishop England’s (BE) Class of 2019 comprised of 175 students. The majority of the students are attending college this fall, including the class valedictorian who is attending Duke University and the class salutatorian who is attending Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Several of Brown’s friends, family, as well as BE alumni and administrators, supported and celebrated this special occasion by way of social media engagement and at a pre-commencement reception held on Friday, May 31, 2019. Brown, who came from humble beginnings, including low-income housing, literally begged to gain acceptance into Bishop England High School because he knew it would change his life and it most certainly did. During the reception, attendees viewed the “Beating the Odds” film that documented Brown’s humble beginnings to leading Communities In Schools of Atlanta’s mission of surrounding students with a community of support by empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. Brown, a former BE basketball player, was surprised by his former basketball coach and father figure, Tommy Lavelle, at the reception.
During the graduation services, Brown challenged the BE Class of 2019 to do the following:
To make sure they lead with empathy and compassion for the less fortunate
To make sure they use their platforms in life for the good and well-being of everyone in the community
To make sure they stand up for what is right and just (no matter the cost)
To make sure they embrace diversity
Immediately following Brown’s commencement speech, Bishop England presented him with a framed sketch of the high school's exterior as it looked his graduation year, 1991. Brown stated, “This is one of the of proudest moments of my life.”
View Bishop England’s 2019 graduation exercises, including the commencement speech from Frank Brown (you must have a Facebook account to view the graduation video).
View the “Beating the Odds” trailer.