“I’m bursting with pride today,” Waseca Alternative Learning Center Coordinator JoAnn Erickson said.

This was the opening to the Waseca ALC graduation Friday, May 31. There were 18 students for the 2019 commencement.

The graduates were mostly Waseca ALC students but there were two present who received their diploma from Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton district but finished classes through the Waseca ALC program.

Erickson continued to thank the School Board members and community members for their support of the ALC and that it wouldn’t be possible without it.

Some board members, along with Superintendent Tom Lee, were present at commencement for the ALC to present diplomas and to share high-fives of congratulations with the students for their hard work. Friends, family and staff members were all present for the class of 2019’s walk across the stage into the students’ next adventure in life.

Danica Vega-Cervantes was chosen to be the student speaker at commencement. Vega-Cervantes started out by thanking everyone for coming and for all that they did to get the graduates to where they are now.

“We want to thank you for giving your all each and every day,” Vega-Cervantes said.

“We’re more than peers and staff, we’re more like a family, a very dysfunctional family, but we love each other,” Vega-Cervantes continued to say in her speech.

She talked about their memories throughout the school year and how they would joke around with each other and support one another. She went through the teachers, too, thanking each of them for what they did for the students.

She went on to give her peers advice for the future that, when asked where they graduated from, they should be proud to say the Waseca ALC.

She had one last closing remark for her class.

“Look at life the way Forrest Gump looks at a box of chocolates; You never know what you’re gonna get,” Vega-Cervantes said.

Following the student speech, Erickson came back to the stage to share her thoughts on the class of 2019.

“Each has a unique story,” Erickson said of the students.

She shared some of the activities the ALC students experienced in this 2018-19 school year. The students were able to attend a Twins game, the Courage retreat and even put on a play.

“Here and Now” by David Rogers was the play the ALC performed and was able to get many students involved. The ALC received a grant from the Barb Penny Youth fund through the Waseca Area Foundation for $405. This play was about high schoolers who are rehearsing a play in an auditorium and begin making connections with these characters.

Erickson continued to thank the staff for their contribution and work they give to the ALC.

“This wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work and tenacity of the staff of the ALC,” she said.

She then turned her attention to the graduates.

“You did it,” Erickson said. “You’re now and will always be a part of the ALC family.”

She encouraged the graduates to take chances and live boldly in life. She noted that sometimes life isn’t easy but advised to keep working hard. Erickson shared a story about Ron White, a guest on Dr. Phil, who said he wasn’t Dr. Phil’s kind of smart, but he was his own kind of smart.

“I want you to be you, be you’re kind of smart, Erickson said. “What the world needs is you.”

Reach Reporter Bailey Grubish at 507-837-5451 or follow her on Twitter @wcnbailey.

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