Scholars dance to their own tune at the closing ceremony at Mercy High School August 5.

On Thursday, August 5, the 2021 class of Sutton Scholars celebrated their accomplishments in a closing ceremony for the summer portion of the Sutton Scholars® High School Enrichment Program. The Scholars spent the summer at Mercy High School in Baltimore and the Diocese of Maryland’s Claggett Center enriching life skills, supporting each other, hearing from speakers, identifying role models and more.

The Scholars spoke about what makes the program important to them – the opportunities for personal and professional growth it provides, the community and the fun. This summer the Scholars choreographed a dance and cheer around the theme “Sutton Scholars for Life!”

Parents, siblings, educators, mentors and supporters gathered with diocesan and program staff to cheer the Scholars on as they emceed, danced, sang and offered testimony as to why the Sutton Scholars program matters to them. Special guests included Maryland Governor Larry Hogan via video; Mercy High School President, Mary Beth Lennon; Deputy Mayor for Equity, Health and Human Services for the City of Baltimore, Faith Leach; and actor and author Hill Harper (CSI: NY, The Good Doctor, The Visit (2000) and author of Letters to a Young Brother and Letters to a Young Sister) made a surprise appearance. Harper is a member of the Obama for American National Finance Committee. He was visiting Baltimore on August 5 to promote the COVID-19 vaccine. Hill gave a rousing talk about leading by example and the important roles these young people play in their communities that had the whole room energized.

Featured at the closing were the ninth grade cohort’s vision boards for their lives, artwork by students and project boards featuring role models outside of the usual catalog. The Scholars spoke about they were challenged to find role models that aren’t usually the ones talked about in school. This year’s role models included Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton, the Rev. Neva Brown, director of community engagement and mentoring for the Sutton Scholars and Dr. Taujuanda Jordon, president of St. Mary’s College in Maryland. Dr. Jordan’s inspiring talk about the many “firsts” in her life as a black woman in academia offered hope and a spirit of grit to the Scholars to pursue their educations, as well as excellent tips on what to look for in a school.

Despite challenges of working around the COVID-19 pandemic, Chief Program Officer, the Rev. Canon Christine McCloud and Sutton Scholars program staff created a productive and fun summer program. The Scholars completed the on-site summer portion of their program equipped with the courage to take the initiative needed to achieve self-sufficiency and personal fulfillment in the pursuit of endeavors that improve themselves and make the world better.

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