From the AJC.com:
The inaugural class of the Ron Clark Academy graduated from eighth grade Wednesday with pomp, circumstance – and a guest appearance by Oprah Winfrey.
The talk-show host and media mogul, who has donated nearly $2 million to the private school since it opened three years ago, decided to deliver her well-wishes to the Class of 2010 in person.
And she was simply one of the celebs present for the star-studded graduation at Georgia Tech.
“I am here just to say to you, I believe in you,” Winfrey said to the 20 rising freshmen, after a standing ovation. “Each of you represent the best of who we are … You know what it means to work hard and to sometimes not feel sure of yourself and to push beyond that understanding and move forward to what is certain. You were born to greatness and to do great things.”
Winfrey, who wore a bright-yellow blouse and flowing long skirt, also praised parents for taking a chance on a new school under the leadership of an educator known for jumping on top of desks to give his lectures, a teacher named the best in America.
“To every parent in here, every family in here, who was smart enough, wise enough and understood enough how important education is that you would put your child in the best school in the United States of America, congratulations,” Winfrey said.
Clark said he was honored by the support he received from Oprah and parents over the years, but he was most impressed with his students. The graduating class completed rigorous courses, traveled to six continents, performed for President Obama and other dignitaries around the world and also held conversations with thousands of educators who visited the campus to see them at work.
“I dream big, but look at you today,” Clark said to students. “Where you are right now, it surpasses even my biggest dreams, even my biggest hopes. You all are through the roof. I am so proud of each and every one of you.”
The students shared the spotlight with other celebrities who came to see them off.
Gospel star Yolanda Adams sang a song with the student choir, and Clark gave the melancholy students who were sad to be leaving behind their middle-school years a special treat.