Graduation Day at Last

A long struggle ends in pride and a challenge for the future.

Many of our readers have never heard of Center Academy in Smyrna, a private school dedicated to helping students who struggle in the normal atmosphere of a public school environment. These students weren't given anything, they earned it all.

The church was filled with over 150 proud parents and relatives who came to witness and celebrate along with the young achievers.

Founded in 2008, a single senior graduated in 2009 on May 23: L.J.Peterson, who was on hand on Friday evening to congratulate 12 new graduates. He had a very personal reason to be there also, as his girlfriend was among the 12 new seniors.

The commencement exercise took place at Sharon Baptist Church on South Cobb Drive in Smyrna.The students come from all over Cobb County as well as three other counties in Metro Atlanta. Smyrna, Marietta, West Cobb, East Cobb, Mableton and Austell were all represented in the celebration.

Ms. Ann Tewelow of Mableton was recognized as the outstanding parent for the year and also there to cheer on her own graduate.

I was honored to be asked to speak at this commencement and shared thoughts of what was ahead for these eager minds. I shared the story of "the Butterfly Effect," a wonderful book by Andy Andrew. The concept is about how even a very insignificant effort can bring about tremendous change and I challenged them all to become the butterfly of change in their family, the community and in the world.

The ceremony concluded (as you might well guess) with the awarding of diplomas to Devontae Bryant, Alexx Bunker, Trey Dixon, Brandon Edwards, Mark Jenkins, Keith Myers, David Osborne, Ashton Ponder, Scott Questad, Brenda Reece, Daniel Roberts and Devin Stepp.  The posted photographs are in order of the graduates listed.

Principal Mary Jane Richie awarded the diplomas as Mr. Steve Hicks announced and congratulated each recipient. One last group photo and they were off to the reception and the challenges of the world.

Photographs: contributed by  Kevin Cook of Cooks Photo of Stone Mountain Ga.

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Ann Tewelow May 28, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Thank you to John for being the commencement speaker - He gave a powerful message to the graduates to remember as they face their futures. With the right setting to learn, these students have accomplished what they and others thought would not be possible for them. We look forward to them being "Butterflies" who will make a difference in their lives and the lives of those around them. Good luck to all the graduates!
Larry King May 29, 2012 at 01:54 AM
Congratulations all!
Debbie Myers May 29, 2012 at 01:56 AM
Thank so much for making our sons and daughters graduation special. I have always said to Mr. Hicks that Center Academy was a God sent for my son.


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