Sean Patrick Aaron
Jimmy Dale Centers
Nathaniel Joshua Cross
Johnny Tyreke Duncan III
Dalida Mohamed Diaz
Austin Grant Isabelle
Imari James Greene
Zamir Nyrel Matthews
Paige Vaneere Julia Sheffield
Hayden Les White
Nathan Miguel Eads
Kayley Marissa Donnie Hair
Christopher Ashley Thornton
Hailey Renee Wilds
RINCON — Sixteen doggedly determined Crossroads Academy students were released into a boundless sky of opportunity Saturday.
The students received their high school diplomas in a ceremony at Effingham College & Career Academy.
Crossroads Academy, located at 2940 Ga. Hwy 21 South, is an alternative school whose mission is to provide a structured and supportive environment that will lead to a diploma and/or career success for students who have gotten off track academically at Effingham County and South Effingham high schools for one reason or another.
“... as they put one foot in front of the other and worked their way through the academic challenges that lay ahead, they changed,” Crossroads Coordinator David Smith said. “They realized that their dreams were attainable. They realized that the people in their lives — their parents, teachers and even their friends — were not going to let them give up.”
Two graduates, Paige Vaneere Julia Sheffield and Sariah Shakirah Sade White, received special recognition.
Sheffield arrived at Crossroads with only two credits toward graduation but she made up the lost ground quickly.
“One she made up her mind to do what she needed to do, she began to soar,” Smith said.
Sheffield earned 9 1/2 credits in a single semester.
“That’s what most students get in a year’s time,” Smith said.
While catching up on her studies, Sheffield, while pregnant, received training in logistics.
“We are very proud of all that she has accomplished,” Smith said.
Smith said White is the unofficial class president.
“She took advantage of all her learning opportunities,” Smith said. “She had a lot of work ahead of her but she didn’t let that stop her from reaching her goals and graduating today.”
Smith lauded White’s work ethic, leadership and sense of responsibility.
“Sariah took pride in Crossroads and at times reminded students of classroom rules and behavior that was expected,” Smith said. “It was evident that Crossroads Academy became her school.”
Effingham County Superintendent Dr. Randy Shearouse congratulated all the students on their accomplishment and saluted the audience.
“It is great to see such a supportive crowd today supporting these seniors as they graduate,” he said. “We are so proud of each and every one of you.”
Shearouse urged the students to keep up the good work.
“Graduation is a big deal,” he said. “I think people don’t understand that sometimes.”
The superintendent thanked the Effingham County Board of Education for its support of Crossroads Academy.
“We want everyone in our district to be successful,” he said, “and the start of being successful is making sure that you receive your high school diploma.”
Shearouse offered three pieces of advice to the graduates. He started by saying, “Today is a great day to mend relationships.”
He encouraged the graduates to make peace with any wayward family members or guardians.
“Try to heal that because we all need that support,” he said. “I don’t think I would have accomplished nearly what I have accomplished in life if I had not had the support of my family. It is very important to mend those relationships.
“Make it better if it’s bad. If it’s good, keep up the good work. It’s very, very important.”
Shearouse also urged the students to own up to their mistakes.
“Don’t be afraid of your mistakes,” he said. “We can learn from our mistakes that we make.”
Lastly, Shearouse stressed the importance of having a positive attitude about whatever job they get.
“If I came in everyday and I had a negative attitude about what I was going to experience that day, that makes life really long,” he said. “It’s super important that you have the right attitude, like every job you have — even if it’s a menial job.”
Shearouse things he learned as a youngster while cropping tobacco and stacking sugar stick with him today.
“You’ve taken the first step in your life,” he said. “You’ve got a diploma in your hand and you can do whatever you want to do.”
Like Shearouse, Smith also had a few words advice for the class.
“Every day is a chance to change your life and the world for the better,” he said.
After graduation, Worksource Coastal was available to help graduates land jobs. Some of them will continue their academic pursuits at area colleges or the military.