Gina Warren is a member of the Teak Valley High School graduating class of 2019.
When it came time to decorate their graduation caps, people were expecting glitz, sparkle, bright colors, etc. from her.
That's not what she went with. Instead, Gina opted for a simple design that made a statement.
Sitting around with her friends, the group—like so many others across the nation—got to discussing how they would decorate their graduation caps.
That's when she got her idea.
Gina explained to KDKA News:
"I want to honor them more than anything. Nobody that I know personally has been affected by gun violence, but it's just so heartbreaking to see all these kids who have the same lives as me and my friends. They play the same sports and learn the same subjects. I know that this can happen anywhere and I just constantly put myself in the shoes of the people in these communities."
She decided to combine her tech skills with her desire to make a statement and came up with a simple, bold plan. In a sea of colorful graduation caps, Gina's will stand out.
It will be bold, black and white, and won't say anything at all.
Instead, Gina has opted for a scanable QR code that leads to a website she built.
The site simply states:
"i graduated. these high school students couldn't."
It then lists the names of school shooting victims from the last 20 years. It's a long list.
The list is uncomfortably, tragically, long.
i decorated my graduation cap https://t.co/FBzQ8BTIxo— Gina (@Gina)1557436081.0
After she shared her cap design with Twitter, responses came pouring in.
People were really moved by it.
@Gi10eight @ghostinmutual congratulations on graduating! also, this cap is so beautiful and important. brought tear… https://t.co/juz6N6NZk7— jen (@jen)1557466889.0
@Gi10eight i think it’s fair to say that this is the most significant and moving graduation cap in existence— ⋆ 𝓵𝓲𝓿 ⋆ (@⋆ 𝓵𝓲𝓿 ⋆)1557440406.0
@Gi10eight I thought it would be a meme but it was a meaningful message. Love it ❤— Qrow (@Qrow)1557449458.0
@Gi10eight @heyimdanielasup I love this so much. Twitter has warped my mind I expected it to open porn or something but this is incredible— chip / arya stark for the iron throne (@chip / arya stark for the iron throne)1557515216.0
@Gi10eight As a high school teacher, seeing things like this is the kind of thing that reassures me that the future… https://t.co/N7taGI6OvW— Josh Mauthe (@Josh Mauthe)1557604604.0
Except "this guy"—there's always a "this guy."
Pro tip: Nobody ever, ever, likes the "this guy" who, for whatever reason, can't handle good things and needs to make it about stuff that it's just not about.
"This guy" had a lot to say:
@Loading404nf @Gi10eight that is so obviously not the point she’s making, not sure why you’re bringing it up— matt (@matt)1557531139.0
@Loading404nf @Gi10eight their goal is literally fewer dead children due to gun violence— matt (@matt)1557531574.0
@Loading404nf @dogfather okay... then make your own graduation cap about car accidents. just move on dude. i’m a hi… https://t.co/08Pm9vUtPH— Gina (@Gina)1557532071.0
Once Gina dealt with the troll that seems to come standard-issue with these sorts of posts, it was time to move on to improving her work. What started out as Gina working alone soon became something of a community project.
People helped her with formatting issues, corrections on spellings, adding names that were missed etc...
Everyone came together to try and make it as perfect a tribute as it could be.
@princessuglyn it is fixed on the site. it was a formatting issue. so sorry for that— Gina (@Gina)1557521143.0
@mollyvdunn thank you. i’ll add.— Gina (@Gina)1557491932.0
@gayforgurira thank you! i’ll fix it.— Gina (@Gina)1557529678.0
@peachy_as_fxck @dvrtbag thank you. i will add.— Gina (@Gina)1557526897.0
Soon, her idea started to spread to other graduating students.
Gina took the time to share the QR code with everyone who asked—and lots of people asked.
@752wonderland i don’t mind at all! congrats on graduating!— Gina (@Gina)1557486326.0
@Gi10eight I GRADUATE TOMORROW WHERE CAN I GET THIS QR Code?!?— Sage Repp (@Sage Repp)1557536698.0
@Gi10eight is it cool if i put the code on my cap too? 💕— amy (@amy)1557509013.0
@Gi10eight honestly want to use this when i graduate next year— steph (@steph)1557458430.0
@Gi10eight I really want to do this for my cap too. Is this something you're willing to share?— aspiring human ✨ (@aspiring human ✨)1557540548.0
People whose lives were personally changed by school shootings spoke up to thank Gina for her work.
@Gi10eight I personally knew Casey Jordan and “Paco” Fransisco Fernandez and they would have been proud of this. Th… https://t.co/UEXZhQzSQR— ↞BreAnna↠ (@↞BreAnna↠)1557523317.0
@Gi10eight Thank you for remembering the Chardon High victims. It was so long ago, few people do. It happened so cl… https://t.co/h0BHUaFR04— Shelby Barron (Potter) (@Shelby Barron (Potter))1557521163.0
@Gi10eight hi- as a student from Marshall county, I would like to say thank you for this. it means so much 🧡💙— lily (@lily)1557542025.0
@Gi10eight thank you for remembering preston and bailey, my classmates live on bc of people like you 🧡💙— darbs ⚢ (@darbs ⚢)1557541426.0
@Gi10eight @averipresleyy My heart broke again when I saw Angeliqueand Shana on there wish they could still be here 💔— ↯ ˡᶦˡ ˢᵃᵈᵇᵒᶦ ⧖ (@↯ ˡᶦˡ ˢᵃᵈᵇᵒᶦ ⧖)1557531361.0
@Gi10eight thank you for including Marshall. this is incredible 🧡💙— Kailan 🔮🕯✨ (@Kailan 🔮🕯✨)1557518614.0
@Gi10eight @COSMlCLOKI Thank you for including the Santa Fe victims. My hometown is Santa Fe, Texas and I’m glad yo… https://t.co/xdsOFAlY8F— Mackenzie*ENDGAME SPOILERS* (@Mackenzie*ENDGAME SPOILERS*)1557450920.0
@Gi10eight Casey Jordan from Aztec, NM is my loved one and we miss her every. single. second. of. every. single. da… https://t.co/4Vs5lRgjUF— Tamara Pena Szekely (@Tamara Pena Szekely)1557457503.0
This QR code will be seen in graduations at different high schools around the country and it's thanks to Gina and the Twitter community who came together to make it the best it could be.
Listen to the kids, folks. They've got a lot to say.
North Carolina University Surprises 99-Year-Old WWII Vet By Granting Her Commencement Wish Decades After She Made History
After missing commencement exercises because she was already using her degree and teaching, PFC Elizabeth Barker Johnson will finally have the chance to walk across the stage and experience the thrill of graduation.
Johnson recently celebrated her 99th birthday, and she had some very special guests at the party.
Dr. Darryl Scriven, dean of the College of Arts, Sciences, Business and Education at Winston-Salem State University, and Dr. Shannon Matthews, interim associate dean of the college were in attendance to present Johnson with a very special gift.
Dr. Scriven invited Johnson to participate in this year's commencement exercises and Dr. Matthews presented her with a box containing her cap, gown, and stole.
You can see the emotional birthday announcement below:
Elizabeth Barker Johnson's 99th Birthday Surprise youtu.be
Johnson was born and raised in Elkin, NC but had to travel to Winston-Salem to attend school because there were no schools for black students in the segregated town.
She has made history several times throughout her life, first enlisting in the army in 1943, where she joined the 6888th regiment—the only battalion made up entirely of African American women that served overseas during WWII.
She is one of only 5 members of the 6888th still alive today. A monument honoring all 855 members of the battalion was recently unveiled at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Johnson then made history again by being the first woman to attend what was then Winston-Salem Teachers College using the GI Bill.
She graduated with an education degree in 1949 and immediately went to work. She was unable to participate in her class' graduation ceremony because she was unable to find a substitute to cover her classroom during the event.
Elwood L. Robinson, WSSU chancellor, commented on Johnson's life and commitment to helping others:
"From serving her country during World War II to impacting the lives of hundreds of students as a classroom teacher in North Carolina and Virginia, PFC Elizabeth Barker Johnson is the embodiment of Winston-Salem State's motto, 'Enter to Learn. Depart to Serve.'"
"We are inspired by her and excited to give her the opportunity, 70 years later, to finally walk across stage for commencement."
When asked what she thought about finally getting to walk across the stage, Johnson said:
"I'm going to think I'm dreaming."
Social media users were excited that Johnson would finally have the opportunity to march with a graduating class.
Congratulations to Mrs. Elizabeth Barker Johnson on achieving this tremendous milestone! We honor you today for all… https://t.co/96SZFCDSld— BrandedForKnowledge (@BrandedForKnowledge)1556888753.0
Salute to Elizabeth Barker Johnson... a 99 year old WWII veteran, who later taught school in NC for 40 years... as… https://t.co/A9qaMNzK1t— Dianne Gallagher (@Dianne Gallagher)1557183368.0
SHOW HER SOME LOVE! World War II veteran Elizabeth Barker Johnson got her ultimate birthday wish – she'll get to wa… https://t.co/VqLQOQSRuW— 12NewsNow (@12NewsNow)1556991000.0
@FOX46News Pretty darn awesome! Congratulations to her!— Stephen (@Stephen)1556901919.0
2019 commencement exercises for Winston-Salem State University will be held on May 10th, starting at 8:45 a.m.
Anyone who cannot attend the event will be able to see it live-streamed at WSSU's website.
Matt Easton, Valedictorian of Utah's Brigham Young University's class of 2019, made a very brave choice for his speech—he came out as gay in a speech that acknowledged the achievements of his peers, and himself.
Brigham Young University is owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is not known for its acceptance of LGBTQ+ folks.
The school has an honor code that has led to the punishment of LGBTQ+ students in the past, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
Easton spoke about his personal battles in coming to terms with his identity, and his journey to self-acceptance.
"It was in these quiet moments of pain and confusion that I felt another triumph, that of coming to terms, not with who I thought I should be, but who the Lord has made me."
"As such, I stand before my family, friends and graduating class today to say that I am proud to be a gay son of God."
This personal growth took time, and some serious soul-searching, but it was worth it in the end.
"Four years ago it would have been impossible for me to imagine that I would come out to my entire college."
"It is a phenomenal feeling and it is a victory for me in and of itself."
You can view his full speech below:
BYU 2019 FHSS Valedictorian Speech www.youtube.com
Matt also posted some clips of the speech to Twitter, where he recieved overwhelming support.
Thank you everyone for your love and support today ❤️ I feel so so lucky to have had a chance to share some of my s… https://t.co/eC45m8T1E5— Matty Easton (@Matty Easton)1556337242.0
I am feeling overwhelmed by the reaction to my words today (in the best way possible!) Thank you to all those who h… https://t.co/WCMoOjTwgE— Matty Easton (@Matty Easton)1556337553.0
During my time at BYU, I have slowly come out to my closest family members and friends. However, this is the first… https://t.co/srPXuKoVkE— Matty Easton (@Matty Easton)1556337554.0
@easton_matty Good for you! Always be true to yourself!— Susan Smith (@Susan Smith)1556551600.0
@easton_matty Congratulations Matty! https://t.co/sVzkRy5mLP— Secular Students (@Secular Students)1556388788.0
@easton_matty good for you Matty. All the best for a lifetime of success. Kudos for being yourself. It will inspire others.— David #FBPE #FBR 🇨🇦🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@David #FBPE #FBR 🇨🇦🇬🇧🇺🇸)1556455994.0
@easton_matty Congratulations! Blaze down your path in full color! 🏳️🌈🏳️🌈🏳️🌈— Lance Mace (@Lance Mace)1556434299.0
@easton_matty TY for your inspiring speech. I live for the day that no one has to ever worry about coming out...tha… https://t.co/OGxg9Snu9c— Sue for AZ via OR (@Sue for AZ via OR)1556416778.0
Coming out is always a complicated, and often a scary, process. Kudos to Matt for choosing to be his authentic self even when faced with such a possibility of adversity.
Arnold Schwarzenegger Beams With Pride At His Son's College Graduation In Heartwarming Instagram Post
Former bodybuilder, actor, and California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger celebrated an important milestone with his son, Joseph Baena last weekend.
The young man graduated from Pepperdine University this past weekend, where he studied business.
A photo of the proud father and his son accompanied heartwarming words of congratulations from Arnold:
"Congratulations Joseph! Four years of hard work studying business at Pepperdine and today is your big day!"
"You have earned all of the celebration and I'm so proud of you. I love you!"
Joseph also posted photos from his commencement to Instagram, including photos with both of his parents.
Pepperdine University is located in Malibu California. Their mission statement says that the university is committed to:
"the highest standards of academic excellence and Christian values, where students are strengthened for lives of purpose, service, and leadership."
Other notable Pepperdine alumni include former Disney Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter, and actresses Tamara and Tia Mowry.
Baena attracted a bit of attention online earlier this year as he really got into bodybuilding and recreated some of his father's most iconic bodybuilding photos.
Social media was full of congratulations for Joseph.
@Schwarzenegger LOVE This! Congratulations Joseph!— Karen Stein (@Karen Stein)1556475492.0
@Schwarzenegger Great job Joseph. You have earned everything you have accomplished. Congratulations.— Fernando Salazar (@Fernando Salazar)1556467251.0
@Schwarzenegger Your son resembles you not only in looks but also in spirit. He believes in the ethic of hard work… https://t.co/x98Y7yT1e6— Loyda Perez (@Loyda Perez)1556455529.0
Graduating from college is a monumental achievement in anyone's life. We hope that this accomplishment will lead to much success for Joseph in the future!
Hey #NoSleep crew - this article is about to make you feel kind of personally attacked and/or so very seen. My mom used to tell me all the time that she couldn't sleep because bedtime was when her brain would spit out a million vivid scenarios of things going terribly wrong with her kids. Not all of us are Team No Sleep because of anxiety, though. Some of us get extra creative at bedtime, are plagued by vivid Thundercat related nightmares (that happens to people other than me, right?), or can't stop laughing at that Vine from a few years ago. Then there are the night-time cringers...
One reddit user asked:
What memory do you think about when you're trying to sleep and cringe at?
And these guys... these are a special sort of insomniac. The responses had me cracking up, cringing, and cackling. Here are some of the ones that hit me hardest. Some entries have been edited for content or clarity. Brace for all of this impending cringe, it's great!