Students Get Second Chance At High School Graduation

17 Aug

For most high school students, graduation is a gateway into adulthood that can be shared with friends and family.  But for some young people like 18 year old Chris Denton, a high school graduation will never come.  After struggling semester after semester to maintain his grades, Chris made the decision to drop out of school.  “The teachers couldn’t maintain control of their classrooms and my grades weren’t that good, so I just didn’t see a reason to keep going.”

Chris also struggled at home and eventually found himself on the streets, doing what he could to make money.  He realized that without a high school diploma, his future wouldn’t be promising.  That is where he says Gateway Community Services stepped in.  A non-profit organization dedicated to helping kids like Chris get off the streets, get their education, and obtain employment.  “After I went in I studied, took the test and got my GED in like two weeks.  I definitely don’t regret my decision to leave school, because now I’m able to move on with my life.”

Tonight, Chris is being honored as one of Gateways many success stories.  He sits alongside several of his peers.  They will all have the opportunity to walk across the stage tonight in what Gateway participant Hazel Cooper considers her high school graduation.  “I honestly never thought I would finish school.  So for me, my boyfriend is here and I get to graduate.  It’s a really good feeling.”   

Although the graduating class only consists of 5 students, for Gateway Director Jennifer McMahon, these 5 students show what the program is all about.  “Many of these students never receive any sort of recognition in their lives.  This graduation tonight is our way of saying well done, and showing them that their achievements do matter.” 

With a hand shake and a smile, Gateway Education Specialist Ruben Watson presents every student with a small key, tied with ribbon around their necks.  “This key is not going to open up a new car or a new house.  But it is something you can keep with you to help you move on to new levels in life.”

And Chris says with his certificate and key in hand, he is excited to move on to the next step in his life.  “You know I appreciate the people at Gateway for helping me.  Ruben was a great guy to work with, and I know I can be really successful.  Got my GED in two weeks, who does that?  I really proved to myself I could do it.”

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