Joppatowne High graduate ready to 'be something in this world'

Michael Smith Jr., a newly-minted 2019 graduate of Joppatowne High School, issued an alert after his commencement ceremony Wednesday afternoon — look for him on television about eight years from now when he becomes famous.

“It feels good, because I feel like I’m growing up into a man,” the 18-year-old Joppatowne resident said of finishing high school.


Smith played football for the Mariners for three years and is set to go to Hartnell College in California where he will also play football, plus he will study business.

“I can make a statement and be something in this world,” he said while gathering with his family in the parking lot of the APG Federal Credit Union Arena at Harford Community College in Bel Air. Smith and his classmates walked across the stage on the arena floor Wednesday to receive their diplomas during Joppatowne’s 46th annual commencement ceremony.

The Joppatowne High Class of 2019 numbers about 150, according to the commencement program.

Smith said he made “a lot of good connections with a lot of good people” while in high school, but he also experienced situations he described as unfair, which he said helped “get me ready for the real world.”

“Overall, it was still a good experience,” he said.

Smith’s mother, Tykisha Spence, said she is “glad the day has finally come” for her son to graduate.

“[I] and his father, we sacrificed a lot for him to be able to go on this journey that he’s about to partake in, in life, and the great things that he’s about to accomplish,” she said.

Graduates David Brownwell and Elijah Daramola, both 18 years old and Edgewood residents, plan to study engineering at Harford Community College next year.


“I couldn’t believe it until I walked on stage; everybody was clapping,” Brownwell said of getting his diploma. “I’m ready for the real world now.”

He and Daramola praised the teachers at Joppatowne, noting faculty members helped Daramola improve his social skills and make more friends.

Brownwell said his friend now “feels free to talk to people.”

“It’s a confidence booster,” said Daramola, who recalled being in large classrooms with many students when he started high school.

Brownwell also praised individual teachers whom he said helped him with the college application process, such as his English teacher, Shawn Sharpeta, whose class helped him improve his essay writing skills, and Spanish teacher Melynda Velez, who assisted him with applications.

“If I don’t know what I’m doing, I come to her for advice,” Brownwell said of Velez.