Emerson Academy hosted its graduation ceremony Friday evening, and several of the students said they are thankful for the alternative experience the school granted them.
The school, which aims to provide a more individualized learning environment to its students, gave personalized congratulations to each student as they crossed the stage for their diplomas.
For Kaelob Bratcher, his experience at Emerson is one of the only reasons he was able to graduate high school.
Starting freshman year, he said he had several experiences that could’ve pulled him down — ranging from familial to academic issues.
When Bratcher enrolled in Emerson, he was attracted to the individualized plan that is offered. He said went go to Principal Kevin Thompson and Student Assistant Coordinator Diana Rumage, and they helped him find the solutions to scheduling and were understanding of the issues Bratcher was experiencing exterior to school.
“I didn’t want to give up a lot but I was pushing myself to learn more,” Bratcher said.
When he came in his freshman year, Bratcher said he had a passion to be an Air Force Mechanic Sheriff’s Deputy — and through the classes and direction from his teachers he was able to find ways to push further toward that goal. He technically graduated in January and has been working full-time at a mechanic shop in town.
“[The staff] took care of me. They worked with me. I would have never made it without them, to be honest. I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now with a full-time job, two-bedroom apartment and a car at 17. I would not be here if it wasn’t for them,” Bratcher said.
During Thompson’s presentation of the class, the principal read individualized remarks about each senior. Some were about moments that touched the staff, others were about instances of character.
When it came to Bratcher, Thompson described the student as an extremely hard worker among other things.
“He has a big heart and a pleasure to be around,” Thompson said. “He has a great smile and is always encouraging to others.”