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Salutatorian Angelo Garcia-Hill, left, and Valedictorian Andrew Garcia-Hill

Graduation 2018 West Side Leadership Academy

Contributed By:The 411 News

For the history books, 50th anniversary

West Side Leadership Academy’s 2 top students will have a place in the school’s history books. The valedictorian and salutatorian are twin brothers, Andrew Garcia-Hill and Angelo Garcia Hill.

In his salutatory address, Angelo told of being a frightened freshman because of the words of his mother, who also went to West Side. “She told us it was a cesspool of corruption and nothing but debauchery. She was wrong, I can tell you that.” Although his mother Maryanne passed this year, Angelo said, “We have made our mother and father very proud.”

And pride was the message surely sent to the 144 in the class of 2018 from the 1,000-plus family members and friends in the high school auditorium Friday night.

Andrew’s valedictory address took a cue from keynote speaker Vanessa Allen-McCloud, executive director of the Urban League of Northwest Indiana. She told the graduates, “The light inside that brought you to this stage, keep it shining.” “We don’t have a light, we have a fire inside as bright as the sun that can’t be put out,” said Andrew.

Andrew had praise for his classmates. “We had our mental problems... like how to deal with the loss of a loved one; we had bad grades. We made it because we saw that no one can make it through alone.”

A tragic loss was the death of athlete Daja Brookshire in August 2015. She was only 15, gunned down in a drive-by shooting just days before the start of school. This would have been her graduating class.

The class of 2018 is historic in another way. It was in 1968, fifty years ago when West Side High School opened.

And in 2018, there was a chance this would be its last due to cost cutting by the Gary Community School Corporation’s emergency manager. The school district is under state control and emergency manager Dr. Peggy Hinckley said the school district didn’t have the revenues to support two high schools, both West Side and Wirt-Emerson Visual and Performing Arts Academy.

The decision favored West Side, now the only high school in the school corporation. Wirt-Emerson will close at the end of the school year.

Salutatorian Angelo Garcia-Hill, left, and Valedictorian Andrew Garcia-Hill

Donteisha Jeffries, (l-r), Mauryonna Jackson, Joshua Jamison, Joseph Humphrey, Jaylin Hughes, and Jazmin Hicks

Story Posted:06/10/2018

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