Douglass High School Celebrates Graduating Seniors

Tuesday, May 14th 2013, 10:38 pm
By: News 9

Douglass High School Seniors celebrate a milestone, one, many thought may not happen.

Just months ago, a disturbing audit revealed more than 95-percent of the Douglass senior class didn't have enough credits to walk across the stage. Now, a much different story.

11/29/2012 Related Story: Majority Of Douglass High School Students May Not Graduate

But for these Seniors, the journey hasn't been easy.

"I feel relieved. I don't have to worry about nothing," said Douglass H.S. graduating senior, Richard Williams.

We first met 18-year old Richard Williams back in January. The now graduating Douglass High senior was just starting night courses in an effort to get back on track.

"It was just hard," Williams said.

"He'd leave home at 6:30 in the morning, and wouldn't get home until 7 in the evening, you know, maybe four days a week," said Richard's mother, Teresa Williams.

Late last year, state education officials and Oklahoma City school district administrators went into emergency mode. They had to fix a crisis, and try to divert a future one.

The students didn't take any chances.

"And they've gone to night school, they've gone to intersession. They have worked hard, not to mention the support of the teachers, not just at Douglass, but from across the district, to support them in any way," said Tierney Tinnin, Oklahoma City Public Schools.

Students were going above and beyond to get back on track so they could graduate.

"You know, he struggles, and we thought he was on track," Mrs. Williams said.

But at the time, he wasn't, and neither was the bulk of Richards' senior class.

The former principal, Brian Staples is accused of grade inflation and tampering with attendance making Douglass students appear they were performing better than they actually were.

10/24/2012 Related Story: Douglass Principal Resigns Following Investigation Into Allegations

At one point, even the state superintendent feared students would be overwhelmed after hearing the news and dropout.

"And you would walk the halls and you would see some students that looked overwhelmed, but at the same time, they were resilient," Tinnin said.

"I did a lot of chastising, but he made it," said Mrs. Williams. "And I did a lot of crying, but I pushed him and let him know that you can do this. If you want it, you can do it."

"I wanted to make her happy, and make her proud of me for what I'm doing. It was hard, but I got it," Richard said.

Douglass Seniors will walk across the stage May 24. Richard is already enrolled at Southwestern Oklahoma State University, where he plans to major in Music.