Special ceremony honors Bryan Community graduates
Approximately 55 seniors from the Bryan Community Focus Program crossed the stage at Lincoln East High School to receive their diplomas during a special ceremony on Thursday, May 23.
“There is no graduation ceremony quite like the Bryan Community graduation ceremony,” said Bryan Principal Tanner Penrod. “What makes our ceremony different is more than just a unique song, or more than the fact that we will be eating cookies in the cafeteria in less than an hour. It’s so much more than that. It’s the looks on the faces of our graduates and their families realizing that a dream and a goal - that so often and so many times feels like an impossibility - has become a hard-earned reality. This is truly one of my most favorite nights of the entire year.”
Penrod explained why the Bryan mascot of the Phoenix is an important reminder for students. The Phoenix represents a symbol of renewal, of overcoming darkness and succeeding.
“Many of our graduates have experienced their own personal darkness. Some had given up countless times, some had many people give up on them. A few were told they would never graduate. And a few more experienced loss, failure and bad luck. However challenging these situations were, our graduates chose the option of renewal, of taking advantage of an opportunity to atone for past mistakes and missteps,” Penrod said.
Senior speakers also touched on their triumphs in the face of adversity during their speeches. Lyssa Halley celebrated her ability to graduate at the age of 17, a year early, after having her son.
“Instead of letting my situation set me back in life, I made it the reason why I was successful,” Halley said. “I’m very grateful to have my support system. It wasn’t easy to juggle being a mother and a student. Without you all I wouldn’t be standing here today to accept my diploma.”
Senior Keeli Rabago told the crowd that Bryan was a life-changing experience for her.
“I went from not knowing my purpose to knowing exactly what I need to do and what I need to be. The classes were small enough to make me feel comfortable, and the connection that was built with everyone within the Bryan Community was truly a gift. I’ve changed so much, I’m now graduating high school and getting my diploma.”
Published: June 3, 2019, Updated: June 5, 2019