“Failure for you was not an option,” said Columbia County summer school principal Ed Williams.
Williams was addressing the last 37 of the Class of 2014 just before they walked across the stage at Greenbrier High School on Friday night.
The students who received their diplomas Friday were looking forward to it beforehand, and relief was one of the main sentiments afterward.
“I’m glad I did it,” said Deanna Newman, who was the only student from Harlem High in attendance. “I’m proud of myself.”
Lisa Chismar, Evans’ graduation coach and one of the five summer school graduation coaches, said that schoolwork wasn’t necessarily the driving factor for some summer school students.
“I would say this group of summer school kids persevered through extreme circumstances,” Chismar said. “This group really did have some challenges that weren’t academic.”
Evans’ graduate Quiandria Johnson, who was all smiles before and after the ceremony, exemplified the challenges faced by some in their senior year in the most extreme way.
“Me and my boyfriend were staying with his mom because my mom is kind of unstable,” Johnson said. “So we were staying together. They had their own issues and she kicked him out, so we started staying in a hotel.”
Johnson got a job as a certified nursing assistant at a nursing home working from 3 to 11 p.m. every day after school and started living at a mobile home in Grovetown. She got some support from the school and listened to advice she was given by her counselors.
She said without them she probably wouldn’t have graduated.
“So, my teachers and my graduation coach, they were telling me since my schedule is so busy to do the second half of lit in the summertime since it might be easier for me and focus on my other classes so I won’t just fail a bunch of classes and have to do my senior year all over again,” Johnson said. “I came to summer school and I’m graduating now,” she said with a laugh of relief. “I’m doing good, I’m here.”
Johnson plans to go to Augusta Technical College for two years then transfer to a four-year institution to finish her bachelor’s degree.
Greenbrier High’s Ahmed Rehmat, who will be attending Georgia Regents University in the fall, was glad to have graduated after having to resolve issues with a dual-enrolled class at the university.
“It feels good, I’m finally ready for the next chapter in my life,” said Rehmat. “I plan on going to Georgia Regents in the fall and then eventually to medical school.”