HAVERHILL — All five members of the Haverhill Alternative School Class of 2014 had academic or personal hurdles to overcome.
A traditional classroom setting didn’t work for them, which led them all to the alternative school on Primrose Street, where they were given a chance to excel.
Last night, during an intimate ceremony inside Winnekenni Castle attended by friends and family, the graduates had their moment to shine.
Principal John DePolo said his school held the bar high and that each graduate had to push through challenges such as Project Adventure, peer-led mediation and the MCAS to reach the goal of graduating.
“They’ve earned our respect and they will walk out of here tonight with something that no one could ever take from them... their diploma,” DePolo said.
Like members of the 12 alternative school graduating classes before them, each graduate had a staff member to speak on their behalf.
Math teacher Jay Schaefer spoke for Jesse Cunningham, who began at the alternative school as a sixth grader and will soon begin basic training with the U.S. Army.
“As you stand here today, you aren’t a kid hiding from the world behind his hair, unwilling to step up and lead,” Schaefer said. “You are a leader, proud of yourself and who you are.”
Reading teacher Barbara Ann Greer spoke for graduate Tyler Dube-Perez, who plans to attend Northern Essex Community College to study human services and then transfer to a four-year college.
“You really worked hard your senior year to show not only yourself, but all those who doubted your success, that you are a young man who has dreams and goals,” she said.
DePolo spoke for Jake Robinson, who plans to attend New England Tractor Trailer School and obtain his commercial driver’s licence. DePolo called Robinson a “peer leader” who, during his senior year, ran a middle school support group and helped many struggling students.