Tassels turned at Western Vance High

Jan. 29, 2013 @ 08:32 PM

Ten students from Western Vance High School received diplomas on Tuesday night, bringing the school’s total number of graduates to 464.

“This is 464 in five years through this program at Western Vance,” said Ronald Gregory, superintendent of Vance County Schools. “Just think if we didn’t have the program, then you would have 464 on the street without diplomas.”

Western Vance offers an alternative program following state guidelines for graduation requirements, with local options allowing students to get ahead independently. With the varied rates of achievement, Western typically has a winter and spring graduation each year.

“If they’re behind academically, it gives them a chance to recover credits, and get ahead independently with online type access to courses,” said Eric Pierce, principal. “We follow state guidelines on graduation requirements. A diploma from us is the same as a diploma from anywhere else.”

The alternative program at Western Vance pushes students to graduate by providing more individualized help in reduced size classes, and through motivational and specialized programs.

“Students who come to us are usually a year behind, so it is our job to mend them, fix them and graduate them,” Pierce said. “This is our mission to graduate students.”

Among the graduating class were Diamond Sulyans, student body president and member of the cheerleading team.

After graduation Sulyans wants to become a chef, a dream she’s had since age 12.

“I want to go to the military to be a chef,” Sulyans said. “I need to make money to go to culinary arts school.”

Also graduating with plans of joining the military was Melquan Reddick.

“I decided this past year, a couple of months ago, to go to the Navy,” Reddick said. “I have friends in the Army.”

Through the help of his teachers, and their constant push to see him graduate, Reddick was able to overcome his struggles by staying on task.

“They helped me stay on task,” Reddick said. “I’m excited to graduate.”

Tuesday night’s ceremony not only recognized the achievements of students, but it paid tribute to the support system surrounding them on their journey to graduation.

“This program being in place for 10 years, it represents that time and effort, not only on behalf of the students themselves, their families, the community, the teachers, the school system, who all work toward that same end so that they can go out and be good citizens, pay their taxes, and support the community,” Pierce said.

As family and friends looked on, 10 new young people in Vance County became high school graduates, advancing themselves to a better opportunity for success.

“Some of these parents here, the ages, and grandparents with walking canes, this is important for them,” Gregory said. “It could be the first student in their family to graduate.

“Pierce, he’s the real jewel behind making all of this stuff work for these kids.”

Contact the writer at amauser@hendersondispatch.com.