Learning center grads thankful for experience
A day before the Eudora High School class of 2006 turned their tassels to the applause of a packed gym, a smaller celebration Friday gave four students from the Community Learning Center the right to celebrate their own next step in life.
Although each took a non-traditional path, Gilbert Berryman, Heather Foster, Lily Gruber and Whitney Pryor donned the cap and gown and marched down the aisle of the Eudora Middle School auditorium to the same strains of "Pomp and Circumstance" as their high school counterparts.
"This year has been great and I'm so proud of our graduates," co-coordinator of the Community Learning Center program Angie Miller said.
The curriculum at the CLC gives students from around the area a chance they might not otherwise have had to get their diploma. With their diplomas in hand the sky's the limit for the graduates, Eudora High School counselor Paul Walrod told the students during his commencement address.
Quoting from a book written by the Kansas City Chief's long snapper Kendall Gammon, Walrod told the students of the need to make the best of every situation.
"The trick is to learn from as many of the poor situations in our life as we can," Walrod said.
As a way to help find and hold on to success, Walrod shared Gammon's SNAP approach to life with the graduates ---- Set goals, Notice strengths, Accept accountability and Practice persistence.
Walrod told the graduates of the need to surround themselves with the best people and that they are responsible for their own best decisions.
Walrod urged the graduates to find he areas of strengths and weakness in their lives. Once found, the students should try to bolster their strengths and improve upon their weaknesses, Walrod said.
Following Walrod's speech came the induction of Gruber to the National Adult Education Honor Society.
Gruber had been a student at the center for all three years of its existence, Miller said.
After the award ceremony, both Miller and co-coordinator Lisa Lowman handed out diplomas to each of the students.
Among the graduates was Foster, a former Eudora resident.
"I'm just glad to be done," Foster said.
During her time at the center, the work represented some of the best parts, Foster said.
"I think the best part was probably writing the papers," Foster said. "Angie and Lisa would help me."
To Pryor, the center gave her a chance to graduate early and help her family.
"I did it for my grandparents," Pryor said.
The day was also very important to Pryor's mother, Karen Parente.
"I've been waiting for her to graduate so we can go to college," Parente said.
For Berryman, the graduation marked a point where he will jump off to a new job as a railroad worker and a marriage.
With his degree in hand, he said the center made it possible.
"It's probably the best experience and environment I've ever experienced," Berryman said.
Superintendent Marty Kobza attended the graduation and said the community learning center represents a vital part of the district.
"I think it's great. It's an absolutely essential element to give someone a second chance," Kobza said. "Everyone deserves a second chance."