The turning of the tassel has a special meaning for all high school students.
But for the 12 graduates at Tar River Academy, Friday’s ceremony was more than the traditional transition into adulthood, it was a moment of exhilaration and joy after finally earning their high school diplomas – an accomplishment that may have at one time seemed impossible.
Class valedictorian Deedra Brown encouraged classmates to continue moving in a positive direction as they look forward to their college, career or military plans.
“The best years of life begin when you leave high school and start following your dreams,” she said during her commencement address.
Parents, educators, school board members and administrators were on hand to applaud the graduates as they received their diplomas.
Principal Brian Hopkins said he is very proud of what the mid-year graduates and other students have been accomplishing at the school.
“These students have displayed perseverance in wanting to accomplish a goal that they felt was unforeseen,” he said. “They gravitated to our mission here at Tar River Academy and built self-esteem and determination to accomplish finishing high school.”
Part of the program’s success rests on the availability for students to develop one-on-one relationships with faculty, Hopkins said. Students at the school are paired with a faculty or administrator as a mentor to provide opportunities for them to discuss grades, peer pressure, future goals and other topics.
Graduate Johkiem Ashley said he is very thankful for his experiences at the school and how he now plans to attend community college and study Fire/EMS.
“I thought I would never see this day because of all the stuff I’ve gone through,” Ashley said. “It’s like a gift from God.”