Windsor High School honors January graduates
By Jennifer Coe - ReminderNews
Windsor - posted Thu., Feb. 6, 2014
Seven students celebrated the completion of their high school careers in the Windsor High School Media Center on Jan. 30. These seven, some of whom might have thought at times that they would never make it this far, felt the pride of their families who had gathered that evening to honor their achievements.
The ceremony was emotional from the start. It seemed from the graduates’ faces that they almost couldn’t believe it was happening.
Learning Lab facilitator Cathleen Lavallee was one of the first to suggest a January graduation ceremony some years ago. “It’s amazing. I love these kids and the fact that they don’t give up,” she said. The ceremony was a concept she and a few others came up with to be used as a way to motivate the students; a way to give them and their parents the closure they needed after struggling for years to end their high school careers on a positive note.
“Some of them, this is their fifth or sixth years,” said Lavallee. Each student had different challenges in life hold them back from following the four-year high school path. But on that night, no one was really talking about those things; they were just looking forward to the future and enjoying their accomplishments.
Over the years, many students in this program have experienced more than their share of difficulties. Some students have faced multiple moves, parents divorcing, suspensions and chronic health issues. Many dealt with pulling themselves back up after a difficult academic start to high school. The fact that a handful of students graduate every January shows how they can turn their lives around and head in a more positive direction.
“Many of them were about to give up,” said Lavallee.
Despite the fact that there were only seven students in this graduating class, there were about 100 people in attendance, including parents and siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents. The process to get the kids to the point where they can wear their graduation caps can be long and tough for everyone involved. “Sometimes the parents are so discouraged,” Lavallee said. “So, this ceremony is not just for the students, it’s for the families as well. It’s not an easy path for these kids.”
As each student came to the podium to accept a diploma, he or she was given a handful of carnations to give to the people who had shown support or provided assistance in getting to this point. Each student called up the two or three family members and thanked them. Many tears were shed.
Lavallee’s speech to them was moving. “I am so proud of you,” she said. “We are all so proud of you. You now believe in yourselves and believe you can be the person you want to be. You have the tools and knowledge and desire,” she said.
Graduates included Zachary Buck, Samantha DeJesus, DeShawn George, Victor Harris, Donyell Reid-Hall, Aaron Wilcher and Jasmine Williams.
“It took a village to get these kids to graduate,” said Lavallee.