On Thursday, Pametra Geer will don a gold cap and gown and be recognized as Martin Luther King High School’s valedictorian.
It’ll be a big and, most likely, tear-filled graduation moment.
Geer, 18, is the first in her family to earn such an esteemed post and head off to college.
The ceremony, though, will also be a bit of a relief.
This school year has been the most difficult of Geer’s young life.
“It was a storm, but that storm is over now. I graduate and I’m excited. I’m very excited,” she said.
From Germantown Bear to MLK Cougar
Geer attended Germantown High School for the first three years of her high school career.
She credits the school and its staff with turning her onto academics and molding her into the scholar she takes pride in being today.
When she learned last year the 99-year-old school would close and that she wouldn’t graduate as a Bear, she was crushed.
“I was crying. It was just like a big piece of my heart just ripped out of my chest,” said Geer.
‘Lost’ at MLK
Getting through her senior year at MLK, though, may have been even harder to bear.
At King, Geer said she didn’t have the same support network she enjoyed at Germantown.
She often felt disconnected and, at times, like an outsider.
“Being here, I was lost. We wouldn’t know what was going on in the school,” said Geer. “People were still stuck on the Germantown and King thing. It was still Germantown is going to help Germantown. King is going to help their King students.”
Most of Germantown’s student body enrolled at MLK in nearby West Oak Lane. Some went to Roxborough High School.
The news of the closing deeply concerned members of both communities, who worried that neighborhood turf wars would spill into the hallways.
Geer said she witnessed fighting during the school year, which only further weakened her wounded heart.
“There were times when I wanted to give up,” said Geer.
And times she thought about transferring.
A mother’s push
Instead, Geer leaned on her faith, her work ethic and a deep desire to make her mother proud to get her through.
As a teenager, Geer’s mother bounced from foster home to foster home.
She never had the opportunity to go to college, but made sure to instill inside Geer and her siblings the importance — and power — of excelling at school and getting a good education.
“She looks at me and says, ‘I know my youngest baby is going to do it.’ So everything I do is for her,” said Geer.
That’s why, a year later, Geer’s tears of sadness are now tears of joy.
In the fall, she’ll head to Spelman College in Atlanta — her dream school — to pursue a political science degree.
“I’m just happy,” said Geer.