On May 18, we honored the graduating class of 2016 with a commencement ceremony in the Woodward Academy gymnasium. This year, 33 students completed coursework to earn their high school diploma, and 13 students fulfilled the testing requirements to obtain their Hi-SET high school equivalent. This was the largest graduating class to date at Woodward Academy, and is a celebration of the commitment that these students made.
Group Living Director, Trent Fleshner, summarized their journey best when he said this day was not “always guaranteed for some of you guys… and I think it means all that much more, and it’s that much sweeter that this day is here.” Quincee Altman and Matt Sosa provided the student speeches from the senior class and choose to spend most of their time reflected on how Woodward Academy changed their mindset about education. Quincee self-disclosed that he was the student who would sleep in class and not do his homework. Today, he spoke as this year’s Governor’s Scholar recipient. While introducing Matt, Fleshner recalled a story that in his referral packet, a judge said that he was “the worst juvenile delinquent” that his county has ever seen. Fleshner countered that statement by describing how Matt has succeeded at Woodward Academy by being a leader on campus and “has been nothing but a great kid for Woodward Academy.” The keynote was Dr. Anthony Jones of the Ames Community School District. He was inspired by the stories that originated from Woodward Academy and offered tips for the leaders of tomorrow.
The entire ceremony was a celebration. If you have time, check out the video recap of the event above. There are some really great moments, both large and small, that portray the camaraderie and commitment that both Woodward Academy students and staff put into this day. Whether it’s Principal Jeremy Hilbert adjusting a graduating senior’s tie, the inspiring senior speeches, or Lead Teacher William Terry encouraging the crowd to cheer loudly as they walked across the stage, it is safe so say that this commencement ceremony was unlike any before it.