Applause and cheers echoed through Lea Ledger Auditorium and tears were shed as 39 Crossroads High School graduates received their diplomas during a June 6 ceremony.

Most of the graduates, including Cole Walker, faced many hurdles on their way to graduation day.

“I was going through a whole lot of drama, mostly family and personal issues,” Walker said. “I realized that the best way for me to graduate from high school was to attend Crossroads. I feel happy and relieved… it feels great to be finished with this chapter of my life.”

Crossroads is the alternative high school for Copperas Cove ISD. Using a web-based program, the school offers a unique learning environment for students looking for a nontraditional setting.

“I had all of the work presented to me throughout the year at my disposal,” Walker said. “I wouldn’t have to wait for it; I could go through at my own pace and get as many lessons done as I wanted to each day.”

Although the 19-year-old found a traditional school setting cumbersome, Walker understood the importance of earning a high school diploma, something Copperas Cove ISD Superintendent Joe Burns reiterated in his address to the seniors.

“A high school diploma, in lieu of a high school GED, means more than a million dollars extra earning power in their lifetime … this diploma means something.”

Walker understood the magnitude of his accomplishment.

“I had a deep conversation with myself,” he said. “I realized that if I don’t graduate that I would be stuck in this cycle, and trust me, it’s a real bad cycle.”

Walker overcame his past problems without the support and guidance from parents or family. But he didn’t celebrate his achievement alone. His girlfriend, Kayla Connell, was there to cheer him on.

“I am so proud of Cole; after everything he went through, all of the obstacles, and he still managed to push through it all,” she said. “I am so happy for him.”

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