On Wednesday, June 24, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community’s Accelerated Learning Academy graduated 23 students during a ceremony at the Salt River Community Building. This is one of the biggest classes since the academy started in 2007.
The graduation ceremony began with an introduction and welcome by MaryAnn Wood, ALA administrator, followed by the national anthem sung by Edwin “Bully” Wood.
“This is one of those moments and one of the reasons why educators do what we do. We come together to celebrate the moment when each student’s educational journey reaches a significant milestone. Today we will award each of our graduates a high school diploma,” said Wood.
Wood encouraged and praised the 23 students, along with their families, the Community, the Tribal Council, the SRPMIC Education Department board and all those involved in helping the students reach this milestone.
“I know some of you thought that you wouldn’t make it here today. You didn’t just have bumps in the road, but giant potholes that threatened to swallow you up and make you feel like you could not succeed. You faced uncertainty, not just with school, but with life. Yet, you persevered, and despite traveling down roads with all your challenges, you never lost sight of your destination. In the end, 23 of you reached this milestone through ALA this year. This is the biggest group of graduates in five years. You and all those who helped you get to your destination should be proud,” said Wood as she addressed the graduating class.
The ALA program is a credit-recovery school dedicated to assisting students ages 17 to 21 to earn credits toward a high school diploma and prepare them for post–high school opportunities. This program is geared toward students who are behind in school for more than a year and half.
“I believe now I am capable of taking on more responsibilities [and] personal development. This school not only taught me the importance of education, it taught me to stay on top of my work, to stay on task, but most of all it taught me to ask for help. Throughout our lives we’re not only to get through things by ourselves, [but] when we realize there are people there wanting to help us succeed, it may make our task at hand a bit easier,” said the newly crowned Miss Salt River and student speaker, Ki-Ana Reina.
“Try not to end your education here. Try to continue on and get better jobs, jobs that will help you through your lifetime,” said keynote speaker Barbara Johnson. “Thank you parents for sending your children to school. I thank all of you that came to support the graduates; it shows that you care and love them.”
“You guys made one of the most significant decisions of your life when you said, ‘I’m not just going to sit around, I’m going to finish high school.’ Today opens many doors for you, whether you choose to go into the military, trade school or college. This is a stepping stone for that,” said guest speaker SRPMIC President Delbert Ray, Sr., who acknowledged Mary Ann Wood, the students’ parents and supporters of the graduates.
As high school comes to an end, students will be headed down various paths. Some may be heading to college, the military or even trade schools. The possibilities are endless.
If you or someone you know is between the ages of 17 and 21 and meets the enrollment requirements for the Accelerated Learning Academy, call administrator Mary Ann Wood at (480) 850-7239 to learn more about the academy.