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Dozens receive diplomas at Access to Success graduation in Helena

From the Saluting the class of 2021 series
Access to Success Graduation

About half of this year's graduates from Helena Public Schools' Access to Success program participated in a commencement ceremony Friday morning at Nelson Stadium on the Carroll College campus.

Two dozen of this year's approximately 40 graduates from Helena Public Schools' Access to Success program participated in a commencement ceremony Friday morning at Nelson Stadium on the Carroll College campus.

Access to Success is a high school diploma completion program hosted at Helena College. The program serves students who are severely at risk or who may have dropped out of high school.

Access to Success Graduation

About half of this year's graduates from Helena Public Schools' Access to Success program participated in a commencement ceremony Friday morning at Nelson Stadium on the Carroll College campus.

Access to Success Principal Craig Crawford told the students how proud he was to see them there that morning. Crawford said that after all the conversations and time spent with these graduates, he was elated to see them on the Carroll College football field.

"I am the proudest of papas right now," Crawford said. "Some of you have decided you will go on to careers, some to higher education, some are considering the military and some haven't figured it out yet. I've got a few years on you and I haven't quite figured it out yet, so don't feel pressured."

Access to Success Graduation

About half of this year's graduates from Helena Public Schools' Access to Success program participated in a commencement ceremony Friday morning at Nelson Stadium on the Carroll College campus.

School district Superintendent Tyler Ream told the graduates that the journey to that moment on the field was undoubtedly an odd one. He said the graduates of today stand at a crossroads and they will be what drives the future of our world. They've lived through so much in the time since they were just starting school, said Ream.

"I have never been more proud of a class in my career," Ream said. "The class of 2021 is distinct from any other class of graduates that has come before."

Access to Success Graduation

A from Access to Success holds her diploma.

Dr. Sandra Bauman, dean of Helena College, said the college is proud to host the Access to Success program and shared some facts about the program. In its 12 years, Access to Success has graduated approximately 489 students, Bauman said. The program has three full-time instructors and Crawford, who leads the program.

"Everyone makes sacrifices when someone goes back to school," Bauman said. "It wouldn't be appropriate for me to preach to you about hard work, because you already know that or you wouldn't be here."

Access to Success Graduation

Graduates from Helena Public Schools' Access to Success program celebrate by throwing their caps in the air Friday morning.

Bauman told the graduates that they should be proud of all the hard work they've already done and all that it took to get to graduation day. 

Crawford took the opportunity to present the David Strong scholarship award to an Access to Success student. David Strong was the founder of the program and died in a car crash about a year after it started. This year's award was presented to student Jake Scherer, who plans to study aviation at Helena College.

After that, the graduates were presented their diplomas.

"This is not an end. This is the next step in your journey," Crawford said. "Nobody can take away what you've earned here."

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