There were hugs, cheers and even some tears.
“This kid did it!” proclaimed one proud teacher. “I’ve never met a student who overcame more challenges to get here.”
Graduation Day at the Frisco ISD Student Opportunity Center is an emotional celebration, full of stories about the students who’ve completed the requirements to earn a high school diploma.
Each graduate’s story is unique and personal. Some struggled in a traditional classroom. Others faced difficulties at home, such as the need to care for an ill mother or work full-time to pay their own rent.
“We provide individualized attention and intense support, not only academically, but emotionally and socially as well,” said Sue Kirk, principal of the Student Opportunity Center and director of FISD alternative programs. “These students have completed a journey that at times seemed impossible to them.”
Teachers credit the sheer will, perseverance and hard work of graduates for their success in completing a high school education. Some of the students graduate early. Others return to complete courses they didn’t finish in four years at their home high school.
Regardless of the circumstance, students in the Academic Academy benefit from small class sizes and close relationships with their teachers. A variety of assessments are used to develop a personal success plan for each student based on his or her learning style and educational goals. Online and blended learning opportunities can help some students move through the curriculum more quickly.
“We teach our kids, we guide our kids, we cry with our kids and we give them the tools to stand on their own,” said Lisa Vernon, FISD coordinator of student and family services.
The Student Opportunity Center is a critical part of Frisco ISD’s commitment to the success of each and every student.
In 2016, the latest data available, the District’s four-year graduation rate was 98.2 percent – far above the state average of 89.1 percent and regional average of 88.3 percent. When combined with students who earned a GED or completed their degree in five or six years, the graduation rate for the Class of 2016 jumped to 99.7 percent. The state average was 92.8 percent and regional average was 92.6 percent, respectively.
For recent graduate Deísy Cruz, the Student Opportunity Center provided the means to graduate early. The new mom, who would have graduated later this spring from Frisco High School, cradled her young baby at graduation.
“Since she came a month early, I was scared I wasn’t going to finish,” she said.
But Cruz, like the others, was determined to graduate. For her, graduating early means more time to care for her daughter and an earlier start on a career. She hopes to work in the medical field, maybe as an X-ray technician.
“We know the world outside of high school may look a little daunting,” one speaker told graduates, “but know that all of the effort that you put into it has definitely been worth it.”