Bok students make graduation history

June 16, 2009 4:02:59 PM PDT
For the first time in the school's history the valedictorian and salutatorian are African American. 17-year-old Carlzel Bostic was busy early this afternoon, practicing his graduation speech at Bok.

"I am proud to be the first African American male to give valedictorian speech at a Bok graduation in over 20 years," Bostic said.

In fact, it's the first time both the valedictorian and salutatorian have been African American, ever.

"When each of us walked through the door four years ago, today seemed like a distant dream," salutotrian Lakara McKnight said as she practiced her speech.

McKnight told Action News her parents always made it clear to her that they expected the best from her.

Carlzel says in 9th grade at Bok he was a typical student, but his studies were always important.

"I just came to school every day with an open mind," Carlzel said.

The two students became close friends from the beginning, drawn to each other by their strong desire to succeed:

"I couldn't imagine sharing this moment with anyone else in this school. Tthat's my best friend since I've been here and I wouldn't trade it for anything," Carlzel said.

Bok's student population is 74% African American, but assistant principal Rachelle Richards says the focus has never been on why this accomplishment didn't happen sooner.

"It is happening now and will probably continue to happen because as we begin to focus more and more on individuals. We can begin to help them see what their potential is regardless of their background," Richards said.

Richards says Carlzel and Lakara have set the pace for the students who come after them, that they have become true role models for all students, reminding them that no matter what happens outside of school, they can come to Bok and be prepared to do whatever it is they want to do and accomplish it.

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