Sixteen students in Columbia High School’s Operation Graduation program received their diplomas at a special ceremony on Wednesday afternoon in the school auditorium. The students, who had all struggled with attendance and academics in a regular school setting, found a home in the alternative education program housed in the basement of the school.
“Each and every one of you has a story to tell about the path that led you here today to graduate,” said Superintendent Jeff Simons. “It is a significant path, and a significant accomplishment. What you’ve done to graduate is remarkable.”
The innovative program has graduated 159 students since its inception in 2010-11.
During the ceremony, which was led by Operation Graduation director Butch Hartnagle and attended by all of the program staff, 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 will enter the workforce. Those plans became more possible by earning their high school degrees through Operation Graduation.
“I don’t think I would’ve been able to graduate without (Operation Graduation),” said Dylan DeFries, who plans to study cybersecurity at Hudson Valley Community College in the fall.
Each of the students also walked across the stage at Columbia’s graduation ceremony on Saturday at HVCC.
Congratulations to the graduates!