Ryheem Middleton gets a high five as he enters the hallway after the commencement exercises Friday at Tar River Academy.
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Telegram photo / Emma Tannenbaum

Ryheem Middleton gets a high five as he enters the hallway after the commencement exercises Friday at Tar River Academy.

First seniors graduate from alternative school

By Jim Holt

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Tar River Academy Principal Brian Hopkins said Friday neither pellets of sleet or flakes of snow would stop what needs to be done – recognizing the school’s first graduating class in fine fashion.

In a rescheduled graduation ceremony postponed last week due to icy conditions, 13 smiling seniors of the Tar River Academy Class of 2013 clad in royal blue walked the stage, turned their tassels and entered the next phase of their lives in the school’s auditorium.

The ceremony marked the first commencement exercise for Nash-Rocky Mount Public School’s unique alternative school.

“The graduates’ presence here is a direct result of all the hard work they have put in since the beginning of their educational journey,” Hopkins said. “It’s also a result of the dedicated teachers and other staff members who have worked with them along that journey.”

Hopkins told the 13 students seated in the auditorium’s front row they also are a reflection of the commitment and sacrifices their parents have made.

“I’m guessing that there were probably some arguments, privileges taken and other things you seniors didn’t agree with along the way,” Hopkins said. “I am sure that you can now understand and appreciate those lessons that your parents have tried to equip you with throughout your journey.”

While some of the graduates already have enrolled and begun attending local institutions of higher learning, Hopkins said, others have entered the military or immediately gone into the workforce.

Tar River Academy teacher Delicia Battle’s voice echoed throughout the auditorium while performing a rendition of “Wind Beneath My Wings.”

“High school was a fun and an enjoyable experience, but it wasn’t an easy journey by any means – but we finally made it,” said Brianna Lyon, a member of the graduating class. “We came from a number of different high schools to complete the day-to-day tasks to get to where we are today. Tar River Academy has given us so many opportunities and has (joined) us all despite our different situations such as parenting, jobs and being young adults living on our own and going to school.”

Lyon urged her fellow classmates to promise not to stop until their good becomes their better and their better becomes their best.

Society has given high school graduates the task to go out into the community and better it, Lyon said.

Raucous applause erupted in the auditorium after Hopkins announced the Tar River Academy students were officially graduates.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for our youngsters to restore themselves, repair any damage that has been done previously and begin moving forward with their lives after having completed a milestone that to many of them previously seemed elusive,” Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Anthony Jackson said. “Many of them believed graduating wasn’t possible. Our theme at the beginning of the year was ‘It’s Possible,’ and this is a perfect example of that.”

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tra seniors graduate

Congratulations to all who have graduated. It is good to see our young people to have dreams and have started accomplishing them. You are our future and our future leaders must be educated and have jobs and pride in all that they can do.

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