Twenty-three seniors from the graduating class of the Davis School for Independent Study walked across the same stage to receive their diplomas Thursday at the Brunelle Performance Hall at Davis High School. But Principal Karrie Sequeria-Hernandez said every member of the small class took a unique path en route to graduation.
“Every student up there has their own story, and own reasons for why they came to our site,” Sequeria-Hernandez said.
Diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Ryan Engelhard came to DSIS in the seventh grade after struggling to adjust to the demands and stresses of a traditional classroom. Dubbed a “success story” by DSIS teacher Christine Easton, Engelhard will attend Sacramento City College in the fall to study metalworking and creative writing.
Other students, like Liliana Trujillo, came to DSIS for its flexibility. While at DSIS, she was able to work, pursue accreditation as a nursing assistant and plan her wedding, which took place last Saturday.
“I’m grateful because being at DSIS allowed me to graduate, work and get certified all at the same time,” Trujillo said.
For now, the senior will work as a nursing assistant at the Davis Healthcare Center, but she has plans to continue studying in order to become a registered nurse.
The ceremony was highlighted by a performance by graduating senior Michael Thompson, who performed a song he wrote himself. Titled “You’re OK,” Thompson says the song is about conquering everyday hurdles to find the silver lining, a process he became well-acquainted with while moving from school to school.
“I’ve probably been to every school in Davis,” Thompson said, laughing. “But when I was at other schools, I’d find myself not being able to concentrate and staring off. I liked that at DSIS I was able to set my own pace. And really, if I wasn’t able to go here, I might not have even been able to graduate.”
This fall, Thompson will continue his education at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
In her address to the crowded hall, student speaker Paige McArron spoke of suffocating social pressures at larger schools and the confidence she gained at DSIS.
“Sometimes you just need one person to give you all the hope, love and care you need,” McArron said. For her, that person was her DSIS teacher, Lucy Boland.
“I think this graduating class is a reflection of the amazing group of educators we have at this school,” Sequeria-Hernandez said of the school’s 13 teachers, who are required to meet once a week with students but often commit more time to their students. “It’s a very tight-knit community, and our teachers know their students in and out.”
Seniors James Kurata and Trujillo each received $500 as the recipients of the Barbara and Foy McNaughton Scholarships. Natalie Ore was awarded the Davis Teachers Association Scholarship, also worth $500, and Anna Perry received $1,000 as the winner of the Davis Waste Removal Scholarship.
The graduation ceremony will air on cable Channel 17 in the coming days. Copies of the ceremony may be ordered online at www.davismedia.org.
The Davis School for Independent Study Class of 2014 includes: Anthony Bass, John Britton, Ryan Engelhard, Canela Garcia, Keyanna James, James Kurata, Sam Main, Paige McArron, Bella Merlino, McKenna Miller, Paola Monrroy, Natalie Ore, Reuben Parker, Madeline Perron, Anna Perry, Kira Prieditis, Michael Thompson, Matthew Tinsley, Liliana Trujillo, Liam Vance, Marina Waggoner, Arturo Yamauchi, Brianne Yount.