Seven Vicksburg W-A-Y students walked in front of their parents and friends to accept their high school diplomas in December, after overcoming obstacles that brought them to the alternative education program from many different pathways.
“This is just a piece of paper, but it represents something more on the inside. It says you got through something, achieved things, and have become our heroes for doing so,” said Steve Fryling, director of the W-A-Y program.
W-A-Y is an alternative education school that offers online courses to students in a three county area. The program allows student researchers to receive a Vicksburg High School diploma at their own speed and ability. They are required to visit the W-A-Y classroom in the Administration Building once a week for mentoring and instruction which they also receive from their online instructors. Graduate Cuyler Terrell was one of the exceptions as he attended in-house nearly every day they were open. He even served as a lab attendant and leader of his senior class according to Kristen Hossink, a teacher and team leader. Three of the graduates completed their course work after aging out of twelfth grade, so their diploma is from the W-A-Y program. The policy precludes them from an actual Vicksburg High School diploma.
Hossink congratulated the graduates’ parents and families because their support to the students was imperative to their graduation. The statistics are startling, Fryling said. For every graduate, about ten at-risk students drop out before finishing because of the many obstacles in their way. “Our graduation rates are going up since the program started with 28 total graduates after the first two years. We had seven this year with one student, Logan Redmond, already starting his college work at Michigan State University. That meant he couldn’t receive his diploma in person from the two school board members who were present, David Schriemer, MD and Rudy Callen.” That’s not an absence anyone is going to count against him.