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KCSS celebrates mid-year graduation

One size does not fit all,” was a common refrain this week as 25 Peoria Public Schools students accepted their high school diplomas at the Knoxville Center for Student Success (KCSS) mid-year graduation ceremony. KCSS Principal Eric Thomas told the students, “This ceremony represents a lot of hard work. It represents staying up later, getting up earlier and making an extra effort to graduate.”

Thomas noted that KCSS has no assistant principals or deans like traditional high schools, but does have 14 dedicated teachers who make sure the students are completing the credits they need to finish high school.

“I am so proud of each of you,” Superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat told the students. “It is true that one size does not fit all and if a traditional high school approach work, we will try something else and we will keep trying until we find what works.”

Several graduates spoke during the ceremony, thanking Thomas, KCSS teachers and family members for giving them a second chance, believing in them and supporting them in their work.

KCSS students face challenges unfamiliar to many of their peers including family obligations and medical issues which may set them behind schedule to graduate. With longer and more flexible daily hours, small class sizes, minimal social distractions and a heavily-used Compass Learning lab, KCSS gives students the chance to catch up and earn their high school diploma. Each speaker at the graduation ceremony recognized KCSS staff and the students’ family members for supporting and encouraging the graduates to persevere despite challenges. Academic Instructional Officer Dr. Jerry Bell told the students, “Don’t forget to reach back and give back to your fellow students. You understand how hard this is with bills and pressures. Encourage them and support them so they will finish too.”