Some walked, some ran, some kept pace with the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance,” and some needed an escort as the graduates of the Achievement Academy Charter Schools picked up their diplomas Friday at the Bartow Civic Center.
The kindergartners-no-more will now move into first grade or its equivalent at either mainstream elementary schools or continue at the special needs charter schools in Lakeland, Winter Haven or Bartow.
Some 37 youngsters, most aged 5 or 6, made the long walk from the rear of the civic center into the waiting arms of their families and teachers to collect their diploma, a stuffed star and their graduation photos.
This was the 17th annual graduation ceremony held by the charter schools that provide services to students with disabilities or who have special instructional needs.
About 150 parents, grandparents and extended family members filled the civic center to watch the children make that long walk and bask in the applause each student received for their achievement.
Parents and friends were welcomed to the ceremonies by Janice Jones, first Vice President of the charter schools’ board of directors who then ceded the podium to Alicia Thrift, the mother of one of the graduates, for the invocation.
The three schools’ student bodies all joined in for a songfest program on stage and then gave way to the graduates. Each graduate was introduced by their teacher and was greeted by the paparazzi as he or she made their way down the aisle to receive their graduation certificates.
Also recognized but unable to attend were volunteers Matt and Courtney Wade of Lakeland who volunteered a combined 50 hours at the Lakeland campus. All told, said principal Cindi Parker-Pearson, parents and volunteers had amassed a total of more than 1,600 volunteer hours this past school year.
The teachers of this year’s graduates were: Kathy Box, Deneice Burgner, Grace Doran, Robyn Pospichal, Stacey Robinson, Kim Russ, Alyss Ruster, Claire Schwartz, Susan Shipe and Marisol Vega.
This year’s graduates were: Demetrice Andrews, Laurel Braxton, Angel Colon, Kaden Cote, Kyle Culpepper, Te’Quasha Hogan, Ari Johnson, Ayden Jones, Brady Kaplin, Zachary Kolad, Peyton Kontny, Princess Lanier, Princeton Lanier, Kaylynn Lopez, Alicia Lowery, Parker McAdoo, William Medley, Rashelle Nesbeth, Evelyn Penick, Stephanie Pereira, Destiney Pettis, Kesler Pope, Leianna Rosario, Peyton Scarinci, Sierra Schwartz, Aubrey Seymour, Luke Sheffield, Noelle Smith, Emmanuel Thomas, Elias Thrift, Evan Todd, Norah Torres, and Esmeralda Vences.