Forty-eight Crossroads High students grads walk in winter commencement
By BRITTANY FHOLER
Another round of graduates crossed the stage at Lea Ledger Auditorium Friday evening for Crossroads High School’s Winter Commencement Ceremony.
A total of 48 students walked across the stage, coming from all types of backgrounds, and all finding what they needed to be successful at Copperas Cove Independent School District’s alternative high school.
For Joe Hernandez, who is 21, Crossroads High School offered an easy and affordable way to get his diploma. Hernandez had dropped out of high school in Killeen ISD at age 15 after what he called a “hard start”, and after focusing on his life and having two children, he decided to go back to school.
“I wanted to do better in my life,” he said.
He initially had been looking into getting his GED.
“I went to Temple College, but it was just too long of a process,” Hernandez said. “I went to CTC — Central Texas College — and that was too hard. My grandmother works in the Copperas Cove District, so she recommended this place to me, Crossroads.”
Hernandez said that Crossroads High School was very hands on and exactly what he needed. It took him two and a half weeks from start to finish, he said.
“I have dyslexia, so I need to be hands-on with learning, and they met that to a T,” he added.
Hernandez said he plans to go to college to become a mechanic.
When he heard his name called out and walked across the stage, Hernandez said he was happier than he could say.
A high school diploma will give him more opportunities than a GED, he said.
Also walking across the stage was Jayla Hayes, 17. Hayes had actually graduated as a homeschooling student, but she realized that it wasn’t accredited, and she needed more in order to pursue her career and go to school to become a dental hygienist.
“My last hope was coming here, and Mr. Crawley [Crossroads’ principal] let me in, and he said, ‘Are you going to do your work every day?’. I said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘You can start tomorrow,’” Hayes said.
Hayes said it took her about a year to finish and earn her diploma.
“I will admit I wasn’t as serious as I should have been, but then I had five classes as the beginning of Christmas break, and I’m like, ‘Okay, I have to get them done.’ I came back from Christmas break, and I was finished in time,” Hayes said.
For Hayes, hearing her name called was a nerve-wracking experience.
“I thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest, and then when I got to where I was second in line, I felt like I was going to throw up and I was like, ‘Oh my Gosh, that’s going to be so embarrassing,’ but then I walked, and it was…I wish it would have lasted longer!”
Hayes said she recommended Crossroads as the option for anyone, especially if they struggle at the other high school.
Crossroads High School has 142 students enrolled as of press time, according to Principal Pat Crawley. The school is aimed at offering an alternative solution for students who want to finish early, catch up, go at their own pace, and more.
In his speech to the graduates, Crawley shared a message of encouragement and pride.
“We are here not just to recognize academic achievements, we are here to celebrate unconventional paths, resilience and those who dare to be different,” Crawley said. “This graduating class of 2024 are not just graduates; they’re also adventurers and path leaders because they have chosen a different route than normal, and what is normal when you get down to it? In doing so, they have demonstrated courage, perseverance, and commitment to their own journey. In this alternative setting, we have witnessed incredible transformations. Their stories are not conventional, and neither are their successes. They have faced challenges head on, turned setbacks into opportunities, and proven the journey to succeed is as different as each and every one of them.”