Graduation 2022: VUHS class ‘Queen’ makes a statement
VERGENNES — As class president, Ian Henderson is the official leader of the Vergennes Union High School Class of ’22. In that role he read his fellow seniors’ names as they received diplomas at the June 10 commencement ceremony.
But Henderson wasn’t the only student dignitary to speak to the audience that Friday evening. According to senior Rhode Miguel in her turn at the podium, the class also has royalty.
Miguel took to the stage with a shiny silver crown perched on her mortarboard to read a poem written by her sister, freshman Tryphene Miguel.
“My name is Rhode Miguel. The queen,” she said.
Before reading the poem, which her sister wrote for the school’s May 4 Social Justice Festival, Miguel, the only Black member of the senior class, had a message for her mother.
“I want to thank you, Mom, for teaching me to be a confident Black woman,” Miguel said to cheers and applause. “My mom taught me my skin tone is beautiful. My skin tone is amazing. This is why I am (telling) the crowd, to make her happy, and to show her, yes, I am the queen.”
Taking a leadership role was not unusual for Miguel, who immigrated from Africa with her family.
She joined with several other VUHS students, including Tryphene, in the group Full Send, which this spring successfully petitioned Addison Northwest School District administrators for permission to organize and stage a school-wide Social Justice Festival at the school.
Full Send described it as an “event to spotlight and raise voices that have been historically silenced,” and said it hopes “to educate and humanize all of our students” because “all injustices are rooted in misinformation, limited education and lack of awareness.”
At the graduation ceremony last week, technical difficulties interfered with the reading of the poem, “Human Minority,” which Tryphene Miguel said was inspired by Abdullah Shoaib’s poem “Pretty Ugly.” It reads:
I’m less because I am a minority
so don’t try to tell me that
I am human
Because at the end of the day
I’m looked at differently than others
and I’m not going to lie to myself by saying
that I do matter and am cared about
so rest assured that I remind myself
That the world doesn’t care about me
nothing you say will make me believe
I still matter
Because no matter what
I am not good enough
and I am in no position to believe that
I am the same as everyone else
Because whenever I look in the mirror I always wonder
Am I even human?
Readers are then told to read the poem “upwards,” or bottom to top.
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