The last day of school before winter break is an exciting day for most students, but for nearly 20 Area Learning Center (ALC) students, it marked the first day of the rest of their lives. On Friday, December 19, 916 Mahtomedi Academy (Mahtomedi), East View Academy (Little Canada) and Metro Heights Academy (Fridley) held their fall 2014 commencement programs, honoring the most recent class of graduates who completed their high school diploma.
Students beamed as they walked up to the podium to receive their diploma, cheered on by friends and relatives. Many students thanked their teachers for making a difference in their lives and encouraging them to make it to graduation.
“I’d like to begin with just giving a special thanks to all of the teachers and staff here. With your assistance and guidance, I really was given the chance to better my education in many different ways. I learned a lot just by coming here,” said Metro Heights Academy student speaker Robert Francisco.
Robert spoke about his struggles to stay motivated and achieve his goals. “When I first enrolled in early 2012, I solely believed that it was not possible for me to graduate from high school. I had so much disbelief in myself, because I was so behind in credits,” he said. “Eventually I cracked down and took the time and effort to do what needed to be done… because I knew in the end, it’s on yourself to take care of your own responsibilities.”
Graduation speech by Metro Heights Academy student Robert Francisco
I’d like to begin with just giving a special thanks to all of the teachers and staff here at Metro Heights Academy. With your assistance and guidance, I really was given the chance to better my education in many different ways. I learned a lot just by coming here.
When I first enrolled in early 2012, I solely believed that it was not possible for me to graduate from high school. I had so much disbelief in myself, because I was so behind in credits; I actually seemed to have a lot of doubt that I could get it done.
In the beginning, I was doing good for the most part, turning in my work on time and following directions like I should. I eventually made friends, if not, I knew some people from other schools and unfortunately, I fell off track. I took advantage over things and I skipped a lot of school, doing things that I shouldn’t and hanging out with the wrong crowds. I found myself struggling to stay at school the whole day for the full seven and a half to eight hours. I’d even leave school after only two hours of being there, and when I did show up, I’d hardly do any work.
It took me roughly two years to realize what I was doing to myself. I realized that for every day I skipped, it’s another extra day that I’d have to be there. I realized that if I’d come to school and not do any work, then that work will never be completed. I wouldn’t get graded for it, therefore I wouldn’t receive the credit that I needed.
One day in the summer before my senior year, I changed my mentality and had this sudden urge that made me want to do better in the classroom. I set goals and through time, determination and hard work, I achieved each and every one of them.
When I started at MHA I believe that I needed roughly 32 credits, until I could graduate and at the time, I was only a junior. I had about 11 credits to my name and from that point on I knew that if I wanted to graduate then I’d really have to omit myself and take initiative.
So that’s what I did, I cracked down and took the time and effort to do what needed to be done. I actually stopped talking to many people, people I used to hang out with every day because I knew in the end it’s on yourself to take care of your own responsibilities. I never meant to be a role model, I never liked the attention of having someone look up to me; but eventually I got used to it.
At first, I just wanted to get my diploma and go without showing up for the graduation ceremony. But fortunately, I thought about the positive outcome of the situation and just figured that I wouldn’t get another opportunity to make my last day so awesome!
And for all of the teachers, Brianne, Shawn, Kim, Erin, Gina, Ingrid, Ashley, and Wayne, all of you really helped make a difference in my education and I honestly appreciate everything you’ve taught me. And for the staff, KJ, Anne, Matt and Nic, you all gave me the opportunity to get to school every day, with the exception of doing my work every week, I was provided transportation, and without it, it would have been a big expense to get to school.
In the end, I got it done and I’m officially graduated from high school. I’m so proud of myself and I intend on continuing my path to success. I hope the best for the teachers and staff, and plan on coming back to visit in the future from time to time.