Eighth-grade graduations are usually low-key assemblies with the focus on academic and community awards and perhaps a local keynote speaker. But some very special students and parents at the Ron Clark Academy based in Atlanta were in for the surprise of their lives when special guests Grammy award-winning artists Big Boi (OutKast) and Mase (Bad Boy) joined students on stage for an impromptu performance and words of advice for the graduates.
The renowned charter school with ties to Oprah Winfrey and numerous other celebrities — including its founder, Ron Clark, who achieved national notoriety for his ability to inspire, motivate and get results from students in at-risk neighborhoods — has consistently worked to offer graduation celebrations that would make most college graduations seem lackluster.
Celebrated actress Phylicia Rashad, whose grandchild coincidentally is currently a student at Ron Clark Academy, gave the opening remarks at the graduation ceremony, held Sunday, June 9, 2019.
Big Boi said he was honored to be asked to be a part of the celebration. “Everyone knows Big loves the kids. This is the work I love to do, inspiring these kids and letting them know they can do anything they can dream,” he said.
Big Boi joined students in the dance program performing a choreographed mash-up routine to OutKast’s hit singles, “Rosa Parks” and “I Like the Way You Move.”
Bad Boy rapper Mase surprised students with a routine to “Mo Money, Mo Problems” and then performed “Can’t Hold Me Down.”
After his performance, Mase spoke candidly about how the city of Atlanta has embraced him and imparted heartfelt words of inspiration to the graduates. “I’m expecting great things out of all you, and I’m just proud to be able to be a part of this moment in your journey,” he shared.
Big Boi and Mase also took time to take pictures with the graduates, and Mase even let one young man try on a pair of customized diamond glasses.
“When I was young, this was the pair of sunglasses that I wanted more than anything. So I had them made. You can hold these, but I’m gonna need them back,” he joked.
The Ron Clark Academy’s stated mission is to deliver the highest quality educational experience where global citizens are born through academic rigor, engaging teaching methods and a passionate learning climate and culture. The school mantra is “No Fear!”
The school has had numerous viral moments with videos of students and Clark dancing to some of the latest hits with a positive spin.
You can learn more about the Ron Clark Academy here: www.ronclarkacademy.com