100 students graduate from Academy West - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

100 students graduate from Academy West

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FLINT (WJRT) - (05/30/14) - Academy West in Mt. Morris Township just opened its doors last September.
Friday, 100 seniors will walk across the stage and receive a high school diploma - beating the odds.

Many say the alternative school is making a difference.

"It's kind of overwhelming because I never thought this day would come, I never thought I would be able to get my high school diploma, I thought I would have to settle for a GED," Williams said.

Not many people thought Juwan Williams would ever see the day that he would receive his high school diploma.
Despite what others thought, the 20 year old, who dropped out of school, decided it was time to come back to class and turn his life around.

"Before my process and even during the process, a lot of people just knew for a fact I was just not going to take it seriously, I was going to get dropped from here," he said.

When Williams came to Academy West, that's when everything changed for him. He says he had teachers who believed in him.

"They set me up to where I was going to graduate on time, it's amazing the support that they have gave me, they are so supportive in graduating the students that really want to.

Peter Toal, the principal, says there are several students who have stories similar to Williams'.
He says without this program, there would be a number of students who would not even finish high school.

"He is the poster child for why there are alternative schools, traditional schools, he might not have had a chance to complete and get his degree but his story is just one of 100 I could have given you today, every one of these students has been taking city buses here since they were 15 years old when I still needed to have my hand held at that age, these children have had to grow up quickly under difficult circumstances and to have them be here at this finish line is very gratifying," Toal said.

Williams is about to go to Mott Community College, where he'll major in communications.

The graduation ceremony will be held at 6:30 p.m. at Hamady High School.
Mateen Cleaves will be the keynote speaker.
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