With usually about a dozen high school students graduating from Flex School, ceremonies tend to be intimate and informal — and with a lot of tears. Last Wednesday at Land’s End Resort, commencement for Homer’s alternative high school lived up to that tradition.
Instead of a valedictorian speech, every student had the chance to say a few words. They laughed, they told jokes and they all thanked family, friends, teachers and counselors who helped them make it to graduation.
Mostly, they thanked their moms.
“My highest thank you goes to my mom,” said Hailee Fisher, who wore a graduation gown she made herself with help from school counselor Ingrid Harrald. “Props to all the single mothers out there. It’s hard. It’s been rough, but I made it.”
“There are so many things you gave up and sacrificed for me so I could get a good education,” Natalie Cooper said of her mother.
“She’s the strongest, most resilient woman I know,” Elizabeth Prescott said. “Thank you, Mom, for always picking me up and guiding me to success.”
Other graduates talked about their Flex experience and how fellow students, teachers and staff helped them succeed
“I have never felt more welcome, more at home than I have been at the Flex community,” Prescott said. “My voice, my opinions and my needs all matter. I am a Phoenix for life.”
“When I got here I was made welcome. I laughed, I cried, I fell into rivers,” Kalah Cuddy said. “… I danced, I adventured with people. … Flex has been the light at the end of my dark tunnel.”
“If it wasn’t for ourselves, none of us would be here. It’s because of grit,” said Aurianna Richtback. “… We made it to this moment. That’s crazy and awesome. We did it.”
“Keep doing what you do: inspire, encourage,” Samantha Martin said to her friends. “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”
Flex teachers and staff gave the commencement address, coming up one by one to offer advice. Teacher David Lefton talked about how graduation encouraged him at other times.
“On those days when nothing goes right, I try to remember this day: graduation,” he said. “… Recognize that education comes in many forms and seize the opportunities that come to you.”
“Be kind to yourself in this time of transition,” said school secretary Beth Schneider. “Things will not always be smooth. Thank you for choosing our school.”
“It’s not easy graduating from high school — depression and anxiety,” said counselor Ingrid Harrald. “… Things don’t have to be perfect to be wonderful. Even when things aren’t as awesome as you want them to be, just enjoy. Just enjoy.”
Reach Michael Armstrong at email@example.com.
Homer Flex Graduates of 2019