GREEN RIVER – Emotions ran high Tuesday night in Green River. Many friends and family members gathered at Lincoln Middle School to celebrate Expedition Academy’s Class of 2019.
After years of hard work in and out of the classroom, 25 graduates walked across the stage to receive their high school diplomas. Expedition Academy Principal Ralph Obray called this class “hardworking and dedicated students.”
In order to graduate from Expedition Academy, these students had to complete 24 credits just like Green River High School. However, EA has one more requirement in order to graduate, and that is for these students to complete 20 hours of community service per year.
Graduate Kaitlynn Noyes says her three years spent at Expedition Academy felt like being a part of one big family.
“Having a much a smaller class size made going to class less nerve-racking for me. I know almost everyone here and I felt like I belonged,” she said.
Noyes plans to attend college at Western Wyoming Community College. She wants to get her general studies done first and from there, pick a major.
Noyes is just one of many graduates who plan on attending college after graduating from high school. Classmate Lachelle Schultz also plans to attend WWCC to study art. During her three years at EA, Shultz enjoyed the smaller class size.
“I felt like I had a lot more one-on-one time with all of my teachers. The faculty here is really hands on and well connected with all of the students,” Schultz said.
Not only was it a special night for the graduates, but many of their friends and family members had a lot of emotions.
Robert and Sharon Cuthbertson, the grandparents of Mckayla Cuthbertson, said they were overwhelmed with excitement and joy watching their granddaughter accomplish this huge milestone.
“These kids deserve a ton of credit for all of the hard work they have put in over the years.” Sharon Cuthbertson said. “At first, Mckayla tried going GRHS, but it was too overwhelming for her there. At Expedition Academy, the smaller class size really helped her succeed.”
After receiving her diploma, Mckayla Cuthbertson said she will miss her time spent at EA.
“I started here my sophomore year and all three years spent; I have had an amazing time. It feels like I am leaving behind one big family. I couldn’t be happier to see all of my classmates succeed. The best way to sum up EA is that it feels like one big team effort,” she said.
As for Jennifer Comer, Tuesday night was really special for her. For many years, Comer has been a family friend of 2019 graduate Austin Olson and his late grandmother. On Tuesday, Comer watched Olson walk across the stage and the only thing she felt was pure joy mixed with a little bit of sadness.
“I just wish his grandmother was here to see this,” Comer said. “It was always one of her goals to watch Austin graduate high school, so tonight is very emotional for all of us.”
At the beginning of Tuesday’s ceremony, four members of the Expedition Academy choir opened up with two songs. Lizzie Bird, Holly Mayfield, Shay Mahana and Jerra Lester sang “Anyway” by Martina McBride and “The Climb” by Jon Mabe and Jessi Alexander.
Following the choir performance, a few students took to the microphone and delivered messages to their graduating class.
Logan Sell explained how Expedition Academy helped save him from going down a very dark path. After many run-ins with law enforcement, Sell said his parents came very close to sending him to the boys school in Worland. Sell wrapped up his speech by thanking his parents and all of the staff who gave him direction.
Another graduate who delivered an important message Tuesday night was Krysta Doney. Her message to the Class of 2019 was to never give up and to never settle for anything but the very best.
Graduation speaker Kevin Cuthbertson wrapped up the evening with another encouraging speech. His overall message to his students was to never be afraid to take the alternative path in life. Just because something doesn’t work out the first time around, he said find an alternative route.
If not for Expedition Academy, some students wouldn’t be graduating at all. Aden Winders said without the accelerated courses and the help of the staff spending countless hours with him, he has no idea where he would be right now. Winders plans to move to Colorado or California and jump right into the work field.
Moving forward, Principal Obray and the rest of the staff at Expedition Academy plan on helping more students reach the next chapter of their lives.
“Most of these kids enter these doors for the first time not even close to being on track to graduating ... some of them even seniors,” Obray said. “By the time they leave here, they are ready for the journey ahead. We couldn’t be more proud to see them go off and accomplish great things.”