With the largest class of graduates in recent history, 2012 is a banner year for Hillsides Education Center. Six students who participated in commencement exercises last Thursday joined three peers who received their high school diplomas in January. In addition to the high school graduates, 14 8th grade graduates had their own celebration on June 1st. These celebrations are made possible by the extraordinary commitment of their teachers and classroom staff, led by Jay Bechtol, a longtime Hillsides staff member and director of the Education Center. It is their commitment and unwavering belief in the potential of these students that make it all possible. Our hats are off to all the graduates who have indeed lived up to the great expectations that have been placed upon them.
This is a time to celebrate the achievements of the graduates. I am happy to cheer them on from the side lines and honored to be called upon to confer the diplomas. As I milled about the post graduation celebration, the mother of one of the graduates came up to me to introduce herself and then proceeded to tell me how grateful she is for all that her son has achieved while at Hillsides. He joined us and she continued to acknowledge with great pride his accomplishments. I remembered the first time I met him; his cocky self assurance masked his vulnerability. In the course of several months, he has come to grow in a sense of achievement and become truly confident.