Bridges celebrates different paths to success
A year ago, SJ Durand was considering getting a GED in the wake of expulsion from an area high school. On Friday, he graduated as valedictorian of the Bridges High School class of 2016.
“My time in high school has been unpredictable to say the least,” he told the crowd. “The vast majority of us didn’t start here, which is what makes this school so interesting.”
In all, 24 students — including two who will get their diplomas over the summer — donned Frog green for the ceremony in the school’s gymnasium.
The Carbondale-based alternative high school is part of Roaring Fork School District, and caters to kids who didn’t fit the traditional mold.
Keynote speaker and teacher John Cordasco compared the transition to sheep on the Faroe Islands. There, he said, the youngsters are kept on tiny, isolated patches of grass. When they’re old enough to join the flock, they’re tossed down into the ocean to be gathered together.
“It’s the end of a journey, but it’s the beginning of another,” he said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen, so it’s an adventure.”
He encouraged the students to do unexpected and unplanned things, engage in conversation with everyone they meet and trust themselves.
“You will not get what you want without effort, and effort without thinking won’t get you anywhere,” he said. “Do everything with love in your heart and your mind, and the thing will become good for you, whatever it is.”
Principal Lyn Bair acknowledged that for some students, the road to graduation wasn’t easy.
“Sometimes, the first four years of high school are awesome. The fifth and sixth are a little bit tougher,” she said.
“Each one have you have given me a memory, which I really appreciate,” she added. “I honestly can say I love every one of you, which is a little weird.”
Bair personally turned each tassel, then, one by one, each student proudly presented their diploma to the crowd.
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