Trending Topics

‘I Just Feel Grateful’: Illinois Teen Makes History As First Black Valedictorian at High School In 156 Years, Plans to Attend HBCU

After 156 years, an Illinois school has graduated its first African-American valedictorian. The principal of the school says the entire community is excited for Abraham Buckner, the young historymaker, to receive this honor.

Buckner made history at St. Teresa High School in Decatur, Illinois, a private school founded in 1866 by Roman Catholic nuns. The small school has a little over 200 students and is predominantly white.

Illinois Teen Is the First Black Valedictorian at High School After 156 Years, Plans to Attend HBCU
Abraham Buckner and his parents celebrate his accomplishments. (St. Teresa High School/Facebook)

On Saturday, May 13, he crossed the stage to receive his diploma and cracked the glass ceiling for other Black students coming up behind him.

Related: ‘It Has Not Really Sunk In’: 16-Year-Old Biology Student Set to Graduate with Numerous Honors from University of Alabama Next Month; Medical School Is Her Next Goal

The honor held weight for the teen because it showed him the payoff of hard work and what happens when one trains himself to be disciplined to reach a milestone.

“I just feel grateful for the position I was in. Everything just goes to my environment that I was in. It just helped me build myself up to try to stay disciplined,” said Buckner to WAND-TV.

In addition to his environment, his focus was molded by mentors he never met but admired from afar.

Buckner, who will graduate with a 4.86 GPA, says Kobe Bryant and his outstanding legacy of excellence motivated him to never give up.

“When he died, after COVID, during that whole thing, that just really pushed me to be like if I wanna go for something I gotta go for it,” said the graduating senior.

Considered one of the greatest athletes ever to play basketball, Bryant was known for his resilience, encapsulated by his unyielding drive and willingness to improve on things he believed were weaknesses.

Buckner adopted that same spirit and always worked to get better.

He said, “We’re not perfect people, so if everything was perfect it wouldn’t really mean anything. So, every time we fail, it should be exciting. It’s like, ‘Look I can improve on this; I can get better.’ ”

St. Teresa’s principal Larry Daly acknowledged the great student Buckner was before sharing how ecstatic the school is to celebrate his accomplishment.

“We’re very excited,” the administrator said. “He worked hard for this. I’m excited for him, he’s a great kid, and he’s done a lot for his class as well.”

Brian Buckner, the scholar’s father, said his son always has been “a thinker.”

“Always a thinker, always reading,” said Brian Buckner. “And I’m a writer, so him and I have had a lot of different discussions about a lot of things.”

In the fall, Buckner is set to start his college education at Hampton University in Virginia. He also has plans to obtain a doctorate degree.

“I plan on getting my Ph.D. I want to do research in, right now it’s molecular slash cellular biology. I want to push into that field and hopefully maybe work on medicines to help people,” said Abraham.

What people are saying

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top