Christmas came early for 16 Daily High School students who were celebrated Wednesday for completing the requirements needed to earn their diplomas.
The mid-year graduates are encouraged to come back in June to participate in the traditional commencement ceremony, but some are unable to attend, making Wednesday their only opportunity to be publicly acknowledged, Principal Chris Coulter said.
Allan F. Daily High School, where 220 students currently are enrolled, is a continuation school that provides an alternative learning environment for students who struggle to succeed on a traditional campus.
“The classes are way smaller, so you have more of a connection with the teachers,” said 18-year-old graduate Mary Gabrielyan.
She is looking forward to moving on to Glendale Community College, she said.
“Everybody comes here to finish work,” Gabrielyan said. “No one is fighting, no one is trying to mess around. Everyone just wants to get their stuff done and graduate.”
In addition to Gabrielyan, the graduates included Berenice Aparicio, Talia Bolanos, Azatuhi Geldzhyan, Michael Haynes, Mellissa Jaramillo, Nicole Kim, Malae Kimack, Emin Maeilian, Esteban Orogel, Dejon Pearson, Kaila Peterson, Jazmine Riddles, Ashot Simonyan, Cynthia Urias and David Vargas.
Each of the students at Daily High School has his/her own story, and each has fallen behind the traditional pace of high school for different reasons, Coulter said.
“I think it means that much more to them, and to us, too, that they have been able to overcome those and be here today,” Coulter said.
The December commencement ceremony serves not only as an acknowledgment of the new graduates, but also as an incentive for other students, who gathered on the Daily High School quad to recognize their schoolmates’ accomplishments.
“A lot of the purpose of this is to motivate the rest of the school,” Coulter said. “The rest of the kids come out and watch the ceremony that we do.”
Several graduates said that they were relieved to have earned their diplomas, but found themselves already missing Daily.
“I miss the atmosphere,” said graduate Nicole Kim, 17. “I miss my classmates, I miss the teachers.”