Friday, May 28, 2010

Aurora Alternative High School's final commencement ceremony

Tonight will mark the final commencement ceremony for Aurora Alternative High School, a public school in Bloomington, IN, that has served its community well for 15 years.

The Bloomington Herald-Times ran a nice article about Aurora this morning. I'm pasting it below instead of linking you to it because the Herald-Times requires paid subscription to access its online content.


Seniors say tearful goodbye to Aurora
School's last class graduates tonight

331-4215 |
May 28, 2010
Expect more tears than usual, for more reasons, at tonight’s Aurora Alternative High School graduation ceremony.

Lindsay Smith, who will deliver the welcoming remarks for today’s 7 p.m. ceremony at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater, referred during Thursday morning’s rehearsal to the term “commencement” meaning a beginning rather than an ending.

But everybody attending tonight will know Aurora is ending.

The Monroe County Community School Corp. will run its alternative education program out of Broadview Learning Center this fall, under a new name, with plans for Aurora’s current facility at 524 N. Fairview St. not yet finalized.

“It’s a shame it’s ending,” Aurora senior Austin Clayton said after the rehearsal. “I think it’s good that the new program will be at Broadview instead of North (as originally planned). Something is better than nothing.

“But it won’t be Aurora.”

It’s difficult to adequately convey the depth of appreciation for the school felt by the Aurora students interviewed Thursday, whose words came with clear conviction, and who talked literally of lives saved.

“When you got a chance to experience this school,” Clayton said, “you ended up feeling deeply about it.

“It’s disheartening to know it’s going to be shut down, but it did a whole lot of good for 15 years. I feel it literally saved lives. I was in bad shape when I got to Aurora.”

Annie Hackett, who intends to study photography at Indiana University this fall, said, “Aurora saved a lot of kids, from themselves and from outside forces. Without that sense of support and family, a lot of kids will go astray — and when we didn’t get it elsewhere, we got it at Aurora.

“I’m incredibly disappointed they’re shutting it down.”

That’s a clear consensus among Aurora’s 2010 graduates who, reportedly, already had some good cries during the school’s senior luncheon Wednesday.

Hackett noted Aurora’s staff is feeling it, too. “Commencement will be very emotional, and not just for the students,” she said. Aurora teacher Becky Rupert joined principal Chuck Holloway in helping guide students through Thursday’s rehearsal and said, afterward, “This graduation ceremony will be especially poignant, obviously, and it’ll stick with us. I’ve been through a lot of commencements, but I’m sure this will be the one I remember first and foremost.”

Mallie Stevens’ daughter Sophia, 3, might be just old enough to remember what it was like walking hand-in-hand with her mother as Aurora’s seniors practiced their processional Thursday. Stevens, a 2010 “Comeback Kid” honoree by the Northside Exchange Club of Bloomington, was pregnant with Sophia when she arrived at Aurora and gave birth to a second daughter, Mariah, two months ago. But she is ready to graduate and to study nursing at Ivy Tech.

“I never, ever dreamed I could make it this far, but Aurora made it possible for me,” Stevens said. “Graduation will be very emotional for everybody, but there will be pride, too, being part of this final class for this amazing school. ”

And, as Kiah Jacobs pointed out, he and his colleagues will carry Aurora on in their hearts.

“Everything comes to an end, even good things,” Jacobs said. “But it isn’t over for Aurora, really. It will continue within all of us, and positive ramifications from it will continue in the community for years. As Chuck has said, Aurora isn’t a place, it’s a state of mind.

“It lives.”

Aurora Alternative High School

2010 Commencement Ceremony

WHEN: 7 tonight

WHERE: Buskirk-Chumley Theater

Number of graduates: 25, eight of whom will speak at the ceremony.

Aurora Class of 2010

William Earl Baker, Brentney Campbell, Austin Clayton, Michael A. Colussi, Steven L. Cunningham, Cody Fleener, Sarah Marie Godsey, Annie Rose Hackett, Aaron Mark Hardy Hansen, Mackenzie Janáe Harding, Tristani NaShay Hawkins, Kiah Jacobs, Tarra Raye Mayle, Cheyenne Kylie McCune, Ben P. Odongo, Haley Lynn Ramsey, Aaron Michael Rivera, Kelby Lee Roberts, Sam Malcom Schroeder, J. Micheal Sullivan, Nich Kane Watkins, Jacob M. Wicker, Mallie Carmen Williams-Stevens, Natalie Marie Wineinger, Kasie Zaayer.

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