Charleston Acceleration Academy Graduates Achieve Their Dream: A High School Diploma

Charleston Acceleration Academy celebrated its largest-ever graduating class on Dec. 18, 2019. Standing to the right of the 18 graduates is South Carolina State Rep. JA Moore, who gave the commencement address. Photo: Diana Solis

In an auditorium packed with cheering family members and friends, Charleston Acceleration Academy recently celebrated its largest-ever graduating class — 18 young women and men heading off to careers as varied as nurse, Army officer, TV reporter, electrician and school counselor.

“Eighteen may not seem like a large number, until you consider that every one of the students is someone who might otherwise have dropped out,” said school spokesman Jeffrey Good. “Behind every graduate striding across the stage, there is an individual story of adversity, determination and grit.”

One of the graduates, Noah Ratliff, told the crowd at the Dec. 18 event that he had left his previous school feeling like he might never earn a diploma and move on to his goals of college and a career in guidance counseling.

“Teachers and staff that I had known for four years gave up on me. It was devastating,” Ratliff recalled. “Then I enrolled in Charleston Acceleration Academy, or as I call it, the school that changed my life. I have gained friends, a love for education, and a purpose.”

Charleston Acceleration Academy opened in September 2018 to provide a second chance to students who have not found success in traditional high school settings. Part of a growing national network of non-traditional schools, Acceleration Academy allows students to complete their studies through online courses and one-on-one and small group work with teachers (known as content coaches), life and career coaches.

The commencement address came from South Carolina state Rep. JA Moore, who told the graduates he grew up in a rural South Carolina town with only two stop lights. As a high school student, he said, wasn’t sure he was going to make it to his diploma. 

“There were times when I didn’t know if I was going to make it.” But, he said, “I never gave up on myself.” 

Nor did his mother, whom he credited for instilling a strong work ethic and desire to make a positive difference in the world. He recalled her words to him. “Progress doesn’t come because you want it — no, baby — Progress comes because you work for it.” 

“So,” he told the graduates, “work like hell.”

SOURCE: PR Newswire

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