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Crossroads Academy students receive diplomas
Hunter Dakota Johnson
Superintendent Dr. Yancy Ford presents a diploma to Hunter Dakota Jenkins during Saturday’s Crossroads Academy graduation ceremony at Effingham College & Career Academy. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff
Crossroads Academy
Crossroads Academy staffers Tiffany Gay (left), Erin Woodcock (second from left), Jessica Jarman (fourth from right, Christy Anderson (third from right), Avery Roth (second from right) and Danyel Hall (right) join graduates Hunter Jenkins, Austin Adams, Victoria Fludd, Zoe Cooke and Emily Brown in a post-graduation photo Saturday. - photo by Photo submitted

 RINCON — A series of individual achievements and one collective one were celebrated at Effingham College & Career Academy on Saturday.

Six Crossroads Academy students were presented diplomas in the Effingham County School District’s first fully attended live graduation ceremony since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic last March. 

“I can’t tell you how excited I am to be here,” Crossroads Academy Coordinator Brett Griffin said. “Unfortunately, with COVID-19, schools and graduations have looked very different in the last year. Effingham County has managed to keep us in school and moving toward our goal of being here today.”

Crossroads Academy is an alternative school whose mission is to provide a structured and supportive environment that will lead to a high school diploma and/or career success for students who have gotten off track for one reason or another. 

“Each graduate here today has a story to tell,” Griffin said to the class of 2021, “and I am sure on your first day at Crossroads Academy, you asked yourself, ‘Can I do this?’ Well, just take a look at you now.”

The class includes Emily Katelyn Brown, Zoe Lynn Cook, Victoria Lynn Fludd, Hunter Dakota Jenkins of Effingham County High School and Austin Quincy Adams and Tommie Lee King-Bey Jr. of South Effingham High School.

“Today, I ask you not to look back but to look forward,” Griffin said. “Today is a new beginning, a beginning that can take you just about anywhere you want to go.”

Griffin encouraged the class to celebrate their small accomplishments as they progress toward life goals.

“We are proud of you all for all your hard work and your commitment to your dreams,” he said.

Griffin noted that the graduates have a wide variety of career interests, including logistics, mechanics, cosmetology and the military. Some plan to attend a technical school.

Superintendent Dr. Yancy Ford followed Griffin at the podium. He expressed gratitude for having an option for students who don’t succeed in a traditional school setting. He extended his thanks to teachers, other staffers and the Effingham County Board of Education.

“I think it’s important to recognize that — four years ago when we transitioned to Crossroads Academy as a program — we had that in mind,” Ford said. “We wanted to make sure that we were not just moving kids through the system to just get a piece of paper. We wanted to spend time with them helping them prepare for time after high school because this is just a small accomplishment before you move on to bigger and better things in life.”

Ford told the students that they are special and he believes that they will make an positive impact on the future. He gave them a copy of the following anonymous poem entitled “Don’t Quit” to encourage them during challenging times:

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,

When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,

When the funds are low and the debts are high,

And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,

When care is pressing you down a bit,

Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.

Success is failure turned inside out –

The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,

And you never can tell how close you are,

It may be near when it seems afar,

So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit –

It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.