At Lakeside we operate 4 schools that help students who are unable to succeed in their regular public-school districts. We have had the privilege of working with regional school districts in a partnership between us as a non-profit and many public schools within the district. Those who chose to do so respectfully wanted access to an alternative school in their own geographic district and have invested in a contract with Lakeside to have a regional connection to our programs. I have always been impressed with those who would be so committed to their students and community.
As is the case each year we hold an awards and graduation luncheon for our two Vantage Academies. The two schools are our Souderton Vantage Academy located in Franconia Township, PA within Souderton School District and the Upper Merion Vantage Academy located in Bridgeport, PA within the Upper Merion School District.
Both of these events were so inspirational. Our staff selected students to receive academic awards, behavioral awards, Most Improved Student and Student of the Year. Most importantly we awarded them their program completion certificates and high school diplomas. For many of these students they had no idea that they would have the potential to graduate at all. So, for them, their families and friends it was a day of wonderful celebration.
The students and some parents spoke to the attending audience, sharing their stories of the impact from many life struggles within their families and the changes they made towards their goals. These students overcame many different life obstacles and through their hard work, much processing and a deep commitment to finish school they succeeded! We even witnessed a student receiving a scholarship from a trust fund for students who demonstrated their determination to achieve success even though they had challenging life deficits.
It was so emotional to hear these stories and to see students who probably would have never moved forward in their lives to receive their diplomas. It was equally meaningful to see them embrace their families and to see the pride and confidence they had with each other. The love and deep respect was palpable as we celebrated these special moments in their lives.
I had several board members attend these events and they commented to me how valuable and memorable our impact continues to be in the lives of these students and families. We never get tire of our awards and graduation luncheons as they culminate our school year and launch these students into the next phase of their lives. I commend all the staff from both of our Vantage Academies as they have mentored, motivated, challenged, affirmed and cared for the students placed with them. The legacies they leave are life-long and impact a whole new generation of youth.