Graduates in Lincoln complete summer school, receive high school diplomas

Published: Jul. 2, 2021 at 6:04 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - On Friday, about 145 students in Lincoln graduated summer school and were able to receive their high school diplomas. Lincoln Southeast held a special celebration for the graduates and threw in the sweet treat of donuts to help congratulate them.

Emotions ran high from both the graduates themselves and administrators who helped get them through the process. In-person and fully remote students were from all six high schools in the district. After finishing the year and the almost six weeks of summer school, they told 10/11 they now have something to be proud of.

“Whether you got it in May or you’re got it Friday, it’s a diploma. It’s a celebration. They finished high school,” said Reanna Armagost, school counselor at Lincoln Southeast.

Graduates expressed that they’re relieved and excited, knowing that all their hard work is finally paying off. “I struggled a little bit to graduate, but I did it. So, I’m very happy,” 21-year-old Lincoln High graduate Sebastian Soto said.

For many, they said if it wasn’t for their strong support system, they probably wouldn’t have made it through.

“To make my mom proud. That’s the main reason I even got my diploma in the first place because I was about this close to being completely done with school,” Lincoln Southeast graduate Adrian Villegas-Arias said.

These graduates told us finishing high school wasn’t always a breeze. Several of them went through major obstacles like Lincoln High graduate Joenasi Drummond who became homeless for a bit, got help getting her own apartment, worked two jobs and still pushed through.

“There were plenty of times I was going to give up during summer school too, but I had a lot of great people that I met that were working with me and were patient with me. I would just like to say thank you for all of that,” Drummond said.

Summer school staff tell us their main mission was to see these young people accomplish this milestone. “There are times when we just feel like all we’re doing is nagging or pestering, but we know that they’re capable,” said Armagost. “We believe in them. They just need extra support, and we’re here for them.”

All of the graduates left behind a common message for others: “Just do it it. It doesn’t matter how old you are or who you are just do it,” Soto said.

“Giving up is basically letting other people think how they think about you. So, you can’t give up. You have to live your life for you and not anybody else,” said Drummond.

Several graduates told us that Friday didn’t mark the end of the road for them. Many have big plans to go to college starting in August.

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