Summer school graduation brings joy, relief, optimism

For the past six weeks, hundreds of students walked through the doors of Lincoln North Star High School most weekday mornings to attend summer school. On Wednesday, a relatively small but proud group of those students walked away from the school clutching in their hands the reason for those early summer mornings - a diploma.

“I feel excited, like a big weight is off my shoulders,” said Yuritzy Bonilla-Musito, now a graduate of Lincoln Northeast High School who is considering a career as a social worker. “It means a lot, being the first one in my family to graduate.”

She was one of 136 seniors from Lincoln Public Schools who completed their graduation requirements by finishing summer school and among more than 1,600 LPS high school students who completed courses this summer throughout the district, mostly at North Star.

But summer school wasn’t only for high school students. A variety of programs were offered throughout the district. There was preschool in 11 classrooms in all corners of the city, a pilot program for transitioning eighth-graders at The Career Academy, math and reading lessons for students at Elliott Elementary School - to name only a few.

On Wednesday, summer school graduates could pick up their diplomas at North Star and pose for pictures with family, friends, teachers, counselors and members of the Lincoln Board of Education. For some students, their families surprised them by hand delivering their diploma and a graduation gown during their final class.

Most of the new graduates expressed a mix of joy, relief and optimism.

“I feel like I’m finished with a chapter,” said Rebecca Bilew, now an alumna of Lincoln High School who plans on attending Midland University in the fall. “I think if I would have chosen not to graduate, I would have felt partial but now I can close the door on this chapter and I can move on to what I want to do next year.”

Both Bonilla-Musito and Bilew credit teachers and counselors who helped them along the way. Bilew credited the summer school staff in particular for helping her reach her graduation goal.

“They made me feel supported - like I had a really good support system,” she said. 

Published: July 12, 2018, Updated: July 13, 2018

Northeast High graduate Yuritzy Bonilla-Musito poses with family after receiving her diploma