Crossroads graduates 46
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The 46 graduates that walked across the stage of the Lea Ledger Auditorium Friday night marked the largest class to graduate from Crossroads High School since it opened in 1995.
Combined with the 19 students who graduated in January, the Crossroads High School class of 2019 had 65 graduates total.
Crossroads High School is the nontraditional high school option for students in Copperas Cove Independent School District. To get into Crossroads, students must complete an essay, fill out an application and go through an interview process to be accepted.
Often, the students who choose Crossroads are facing obstacles that make a more traditional high school schedule more challenging.
The district overall has a graduation rate of more than 90 percent, which the district’s Public Information Officer Wendy Sledd credits to Crossroads High School, which allows students to work at their own pace. They can work at an accelerated pace or can get help if they have fallen behind on credits. The state of Texas’ average graduation rate is 80 percent, in comparison.
“I love Crossroads because I think the teachers are extremely committed,” Sledd said.
Aliza Kennedy, 18, graduated Friday night. She came to Copperas Cove from Houston in 2005 and transferred to Crossroads during her junior year, in 2016.
She said she liked the smaller space of Crossroads and liked the one on one help offered by faculty and staff.
“They really treat you like family,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy shared that she went through troubles with her family, and the staff at Crossroads helped her through the whole thing, counseling her and showing her all of her options for achieving her goals.
Now that she’s graduated, Kennedy plans to attend Texas A&M University in College Station to become a Child Protective Services social worker.
For someone going through hard times, Kennedy gave the advice to keep going and never look back.
Friday night marked the last Crossroads Commencement ceremony that Principal James Irick would oversee.
In his speech, Irick shared about some of the students graduating, including some students were couch surfing from house to house and weren’t able to be at school every day and another student dealt with a member of her family being in the hospital. Each of them persevered and made it to earn their diploma.
“I wish I could talk about each and every graduate here tonight because they’ve all impacted me one way or another, but it’s not about their impact on me, it’s about their accomplishment,” Irick said.
Of Friday’s 46 graduates, five students completed high school in just three years, nine received an endorsement on their transcript, and 89 percent completed high school either on time or early.
“When you think about some of the hardships they have faced along their school career, this is quite an accomplishment,” Irick said.
Irick shared a message about overcoming, persevering and having something called grit.
“[What’s] interesting is you don’t have to have a genius IQ to have grit,” Irick said. “As a matter of fact, it’s not the geniuses that have grit.”
Normally, the person with average intelligence outperforms the genius, Irick added.
Irick also shared advice from motivational speaker Walter Bond about pity parties and feeling sorry for oneself. He gave the graduates permission to have a pity party but only for three days maximum.
“No matter what struggles may come your way in the future, remember you made it through this and you can make it through anything,” Irick said.
CCISD Superintendent Joe Burns opened his speech by acknowledging the support systems behind each graduate.
“For many of these graduates, you are the difference maker,” Burns said. “Research tells us for kids to succeed, they’ve got to be connected to at least one meaningful adult.”
The most important people at the ceremony Friday, though, were the 46 graduates, he added.
“These kids have overcome all kind of odds,” Burns said. “They have endured things that you and I would not even dream of to be able to sit before you tonight, wearing a blue robe with the CC on it and graduating from Crossroads High School as the class of 2019.”
Burns shared two things that he thought were critically important for the graduates to remember- attitude and perseverance.
For attitude, success begins in a person’s mind, he said.
“The only limit on your potential is what you think about yourself,” Burns told the graduates.
Also connected to attitude, Burns told the graduates to remember that words matter.
Burns said that today’s society is full of the “dump truck” mentality, where people dump words on others with no thought to how it will affect that person.
“Words make a difference,” Burns said. “It’s critically important when you’re talking, when you’re texting, when you’re emailing, when you’re doing all those things, that what you say and how you say it is always wrapped in care, concern and love.”
Also regarding attitude, Burns encouraged the graduates to remember that without action, it is just a goal.
On the topic of perseverance, Burns said that it “doesn’t require any advanced training, any vocational training, any college education.”
He also touched on grit, like Irick, and shared examples of two famous people who showed grit and determination to gain their success, boxer Muhamed Ali and author J.K. Rowling.
Burns shared a third thing for graduates to remember that he said wasn’t in his notes.
“Your life has to have a firm foundation anchored in an unwavering faith that there is someone who is more powerful, who is more knowledgeable and who cares about you more than anybody in this world,” Burns said.
Burns encouraged the graduates to dream big and remember that no matter what they do and where they go, they will “always be a big deal in Copperas Cove, Texas.”
Friday night’s graduates included Xavier Anderson, Alexandria Arnold, Colton Atkins, Kathryn Barberena, Cody Beranek, William Bray, Samantha Burnias, Tina Burris, Alexis Burton, Makayla Canning, Debra Carlton, Ashley Coleman, Angelina Colon, John Eberly, Juan Favela, Kelsey Foley, Jurrien Ganske, Luvilina George, Jabari Gilmore, Andrea Gresko, Joelle Hawkins, Brianna Haynes, Janelle Holman, Destiny Hosier, Quavian Johnson, Aliza Kennedy, Caitlyn Kraus, Matthew Lawson, Shaundrea Lewis, Trinity Mahoney, Kilian Matthews, Devonn Mayhew, Ian McGovern, Aurora Olsen, Jason Otis Jr., Elliott Pagan Rivera, Bryon Prewitt Jr., Tatianaliz Ramirez Cardoza, Marcus Rhymes, Dylan Rinchack, Fate Roberts, Justin Taylor, Maverick VanWinkle, Alyssa Whiteley-Rulison, Zane Whitt, Simeon Wiley and Sabrinia Wood.