By Jon Schroeder
The Cove Herald
Only five were graduating, but more than 10 times that many people showed to congratulate them. But that might just be because they had more hurdles to jump than most to make it to graduation day.
Crossroads High School, which enrolls about 60 students, is an alternative school — students start there throughout the semester, and they finish when they’re done. Graduation ceremonies are held twice yearly, and this was one of the smaller ones. Last semester, about 50 students finished their time at Crossroads. But on Thursday, only Tiffany Atchison, Aryn Cherrix, Beth Cherrix, Stephen Hibbs and Quintin Jamar White walked across the stage.
Command Sgt. Maj. Lawrence Wilson, whose unit captured Saddam Hussein in Dec. 2003, said that’s a big deal. He served as the graduation’s keynote speaker, talking to the five students about dreams, goals and accomplishments.
“Dreams can come true,” he said, kicking off what Crossroads Principal Kelly Avritt later called “fifteen minutes of power-packed inspiration.”
Wilson said graduation is only the first step, albeit an important one.
“Regardless of what anyone else thinks of you, there’s one thing you’ve got to do. You’ve got to believe in yourself,” he said to the five soon-to-be-graduates, all sitting in the front row of Lea Ledger Auditorium at Copperas Cove High School. “Do you believe in yourself?”
The myth is that alternative high school students don’t graduate, Wilson said, noting that five instances of truth sat in front of him, defying that trend.
Copperas Cove Independent School District Superintendent Rose Cameron repeated Wilson’s hopeful tone: “The world is yours,” she said, challenging the students to “make the difference.”
Four of the five will be continuing on to college, including Tiffany Atchinson, who said after the ceremony that she “can’t wait” to get there.
“There’s no doubt in my mind she’ll be successful,” said her mother Stacy Scott. Atchinson plans to attend a massage therapy college after her wedding, ultimately hoping to open her own business later in life.
Mellissa Bryant, cousin of graduating senior Quintin Jamar White, said she’s glad there’s an alternative school where students are actually succeeding.
Still, she said she believes it’s a group process.
“You can’t do it alone,” Bryant said, adding that doing well in school should be “truly a family affair.”
But those graduating are also accountable for their own success. Avritt said the students have overcome great adversity to graduate, adding that in her view, it’s more difficult to graduate once a student has left another high school for an alternative school.
“They have shown they have great strength of character,” Avritt said. “And we are proud.”
Contact Jon Schroeder at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 547-0428