Salutatorian Duane Price (center) and fellow graduates of De La Salle Vocational School turn their tassels after receiving their high school diplomas, June 14.  (Photo by Gina Christian)

Philadelphia, PA – Thirteen students turned their tassels during a June 14 graduation ceremony at De La Salle Vocational School, the day treatment center of St. Gabriel’s System in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Founded in 1974 and operated by archdiocesan Catholic Social Services (CSS), the Bensalem-based school provides educational, vocational and behavioral support to adjudicated young men ages 16 to 18.

Through its year-round academic program, De La Salle instructs approximately 300 youth annually, conferring high school diplomas and vocational certifications in building maintenance, carpentry, auto services and culinary arts.

“This is a day I’ve been waiting for a long time,” said Angela Wall, whose son Duane Price was named class salutatorian.

Duane Price, salutatorian of the spring 2019 class at De La Salle Vocational School, addressed a cheering audience at a June 14 graduation ceremony.  (Photo by Gina Christian)

In his speech, Price quoted a poem written by his mother, in which she encouraged him to “see his face in this time and space,” and to believe that he could achieve his goals by embracing the opportunities of the present moment.

Price recalled that his teachers’ consistent, compassionate instruction enabled him to overcome the challenges he had encountered upon his arrival at the school.

“They told me that all I had to do was keep doing my best, and I would master the skills in no time,” he said. “Once I heard that, tears came to my eyes. And since that day, I have always put 100 percent effort into my work.”

Price earned a certificate in culinary arts, passing the manager’s exam for ServSafe, the nation’s leading food safety association. While the choice of specialization was a natural for Price (his father Timothy is a chef), he ultimately has his sights set on law school, which he plans to enter after completing his degree at Community College of Philadelphia.

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