Le’Kira Watson and Lydia Page became the first two graduates of the Lynchburg City Schools Empowerment Academy in a small ceremony at E.C. Glass High School on Friday night.
There was plenty of cake and smiles to go around as Watson turned the tassel in front of family, school staff and school board members on hand to support the graduating students. Unfortunately, Page was unable to attend but will have a Lynchburg City Schools diploma to call her own.
“I’m overwhelmed but overwhelmed with happiness,” Watson said after the ceremony.
She described graduation as her “first step toward adulthood” and added with a diploma in hand, her next step was to go on to college and that she was considering a career in cosmetology.
Watson credited the teachers at the Empowerment Academy for providing a happy, helpful learning environment where teachers provided her with individual attention in the classroom.
“They keep you very focused,” Watson said.
Prior to attending the Empowerment Academy, Watson had been a student at E.C. Glass.
The Empowerment Academy, in its first year, is an alternative program that targets sophomores, juniors and seniors who are behind in earned high school credits and helps them along a path to graduation. Unlike Fort Hill Community School, which serves students with behavioral issues, the focus of The Empowerment Academy is remediation for students behind on their path to graduation.
In its first year, The Empowerment Academy, at 601 12th St., has a 10-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio. The small student population limited to 40 allows teachers to spend more time working with students on individual problems in class. The program also allows for flexible scheduling to help students with life issues outside of class to continue to work toward graduation through credit recovery.
“Our mission is every child, by name and by need, to graduation,” LCS Superintendent Scott Brabrand noted in his welcoming remarks. “Every child deserves to have their needs met, their names known, and a ceremony that honors the effort and the focus that they have made to get to the graduation stage.”
In remarks to an audience of about 20 people, Empowerment Academy Director Kacey Crabbe said “Le’Kira persevered every day,” and referred to Watson as “feisty and determined” about reaching graduation.
In a keynote address offered by Assistant City Manager John Hughes IV, he advised Watson to “never stop learning” and to take time to reach down and uplift others now that she had graduated.
Though Watson and Page are the first two students to graduate from The Empowerment Academy, Crabbe said she has 12 more students working toward a June graduation.