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A group of 15 students in Columbia High School’s Operation Graduation program were celebrated at a special ceremony in the auditorium on Thursday afternoon, not only for earning their diplomas, but for overcoming obstacles along the way.

The students, who had struggled in a regular school setting, were given a second chance with Operation Graduation. The program is located in the basement of the school where they receive more one-on-one attention from teachers and staff.

“There have been bumps in the road, twists and turns, but you all made it to today, and you should be proud of what you achieved,” said Superintendent Jeff Simons.

The innovative program has graduated 143 students since its inception in 2010-11.

During the ceremony, a video played with each of the students reflecting on Operation Graduation, how it helped them and what they plan to do after graduation. Some will attend college or begin a trade program while others enter the workforce.

“The Operation Graduation Class of 2018 was a class of amazing and hardworking students,” said program director Butch Hartnagle. “Their dedication and success were inspiring to all who were involved.”

Congratulations to the graduates!