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Editorial: Alternative schools' worth undeniable

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This month, more than two dozen students graduated from high school. Theirs wasn’t the traditional, pomp-and-circumstance ceremony, but their road to graduation wasn’t a traditional one, either.

The students were completing their high school educations through alternative programs offered by the county’s school districts.

Their grit is admirable.

While just finishing their coursework is reason enough to celebrate, many of these students accomplished this while holding down a job or raising a family.

Others found they couldn’t concentrate in a traditional classroom or felt unable to ask for the kind of help they needed to complete assignments and learn lessons.

In one case recently profiled in the Daily Journal, a teenager said that when she had trouble understanding a lesson or completing an assignment she didn’t know whom to turn to. Neither of her parents was a high school graduate.

“I just ignored homework. I avoided help and trying,” she said.

But she saw how her parents struggled to raise the family despite their educational handicaps, so she was determined to earn her diploma, which she did through the Center Grove alternative program.

A Whiteland student faced issues of homelessness and an unstable home life. As his family struggled, he suffered from depression, which exacerbated his academic struggles. He found success through the Clark-Pleasant Academy and now plans to attend Ivy Tech Community College.

A third student profiled struggled in a traditional classroom setting.

Then, when she gave birth to a son, she thought her goal of a high school diploma was out of reach. “I needed time with my son, and I couldn’t do that going to school eight hours a day,” she said.

She, too, was able to find academic success in Center Grove’s program.

The life stories of these and other nontraditional graduates clearly show the value of alternative programs.

 For many students, such programs almost represent their last chance at success in high school.

But their appreciation of their own accomplishments is heightened by the struggle it took to reach that point. One of the students captured that thought nicely when he said, “It feels amazing. I’m so ready ... to start the real life.”

The determination of alternative school graduates offers lessons all students can learn from.

We salute these nontraditional graduates and hope regular students can take inspiration from their success stories.

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