Congrats to our December graduates!
Students from Metro Schools' non-traditional high schools, the Academies at Old Cockrill, Opry Mills and Hickory Hollow, turned their tassels in December. This important milestone symbolized a major academic achievement – high school graduation.
"Turning that tassel is not a fashion statement, it's a symbol that you turned a page in your life. Whatever comes after that nobody will be able to take that away from you," said Dr. J. Michael Durnil, president and chief executive officer of the Simon Youth Foundation. Durnil spoke at the Academy of Hickory Hollow graduation held on Wednesday, December 16, where hundreds gathered to watch 40 students commemorate their high school graduation ceremony.
Christina Villagomez came to Tennessee from California in September, needing about six credits to finish her high school education. She showed her dedication as she started every school day at the academy early. That same dedication is taking her to American Baptist College in January 2016, where she is pursuing a career working with troubled teens.
"Failure was never an option here," Villagomez said to the crowd. "Let's walk into the world with the fiercest, brightest futures that we can imagine."
TaKeitha Rogers was briefly driven to tears as she expressed her thankfulness for the nontraditional high school environment that let her complete her pathway to graduation.
"They always made us feel welcome and encouraged us," Rogers said. "They also taught us that after high school there is a huge transition from teenager to adult. Some of us are teenage parents like myself and some of us had to provide for our families - but we didn't let that stop us."
Josselyn Marroquin was the Academy at Hickory Hollow’s 1,000th graduate. She plans on attending Tennessee College of Applied Technology Nashville to pursue a career in healthcare as a nurse.
“She came here, got to it and got it done,” said Billy Fellman, Academy at Hickory Hollow Principal.
The Academy schools are in their seventh year of operation in Metro Schools and have graduated more than 2,000 students. Marroquin started her journey at Hickory Hollow as a shy student without a lot of friends. This semester, she came in and high-fived the staff on most days.
“She just opened up. It was amazing to see the transformation she made," Fellman said. See the special part of the graduation ceremony that celebrated the Academy at Hickory Hollow's 1,000th graduate:
See the graduation programs from all three nontraditional academies below: