TERRE HAUTE —
Every student at Booker T. Washington High School has faced, and overcome, obstacles.
On Friday, they celebrated a major achievement — graduation.
Seventeen students crossed the Terre Haute South Vigo auditorium stage during Washington High School’s graduation.
The school is an alternative program, primarily for pregnant and parenting teens. Little children sat in the audience, some calling out “mommy” when they saw their mothers on stage.
Two-year-old Hunter Sappington held a bouquet for his mother, Victoria Bickers, who would be graduating.
“Major obstacles are behind us, and we should be proud because we have met a major milestone in our lives,” said one of the graduates, Samantha Farrell, who spoke during the ceremony.
She talked about her own challenges and how her decision to go to Washington her last year of high school made it possible for her to achieve two major goals — a safe and healthy pregnancy and a high school diploma.
Today, she is the proud mother of a 6-month-old son, Caden. Farrell also plans to go to Indiana State University and pursue a career as a geriatric counselor, which will require many years of schooling.
Currently, she works full-time as a shift manager at a fast food restaurant. “The motto of Booker T. Washington is ‘A New Beginning,’ and the birth of my son was certainly a new beginning, and now I’m moving on to my next new beginning,” she said.
She told fellow graduates, “Today is a stepping stone for our futures. Today, we can embark on showing our families and communities and even ourselves just how far we can go.”
She thanked those who have supported her, including her family, Washington teachers and staff and Terre Haute South Vigo guidance counselors.
She received two scholarship awards, one for $1,000 from Tri Kappa (Gamma Gamma chapter) and another for $1,000 from Energy Systems Group.
A Breakfast Optimist award went to Victoria Bickers, while Taylor Sawyer received a State Farm Insurance award.
Superintendent Dan Tanoos thanked families for supporting their children and helping them graduate, and he also credited the school board for supporting a new facility to house Washington High School.
After the high school students graduated, the children — accompanied by their mothers — also went on stage and obtained mini-diplomas marking their graduation from the Alternatives for Living and Learning nursery, housed at Washington.
Just before the ceremony began, graduating senior Maria Hutton said she felt “kind of like a sigh of relief. You don’t have any more high school left. No more drama. I’m really excited because it’s like a new step forward. I’ll be going to college, starting something different and working on a career.”
She plans to study nursing — two years at Ivy Tech Community College and two years at Indiana State University. Her son, Christopher Sotelo, is seven months.
Washington staff have been “amazing” in supporting her through some of the challenges that come with pregnancy and motherhood, Hutton said.
Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or email@example.com.
Graduates say 'new beginning' motto true
TERRE HAUTE —
Every student at Booker T. Washington High School has faced, and overcome, obstacles.
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