From the moment you walk into a Serenity High School graduation, you know there is something different. The graduation of the 11 students who walked across the stage at yesterday’s Serenity High graduation was made all the more precious because these young people completed their education after coming back from the devastating effects of substance abuse.
Serenity High School is a unique campus created to offer a safe and sober high school experience for students who are in recovery from substance abuse. More than 180 students have graduated from Serenity since its creation on 1999, and Thursday’s graduates included students from McKinney, Frisco, Plano and Richardson.
Yesterday’s celebration was attended by about 150, including thankful parents, cheering alumni, supportive friends, as well as school board members, MISD Superintendent J.D. Kennedy, a host of MISD employees and numerous community members who have supported this unique school for over a decade.
During the ceremony, each student was called to stand beside Serenity Principal Juli Ferraro as she told his or her personal story in overcoming their unique obstacles to earn their diploma.
New graduate Hallie shared her reflection on her time at Serenity, saying: “The choices that I make today are sure going to affect me in the future. That’s why I’m so glad I was able to come to Serenity. I couldn’t have done it without Serenity High. What we are is God’s gift to us. What we become is our gift to God.”
“I have never missed a graduation, and I don’t intend to. These kids are terrific,” said Neil Sperry, a steadfast supporter of Serenity, which he and his wife, MISD School Board President Lynn Sperry helped to create in 1999.
“Congratulations to all of the graduates. You are an inspiration to us all,” said guest speaker, District Court Judge Cynthia Wheless, who presides over juvenile court. She complemented the students on having the courage to take control of their lives and finish high school sober.
“You have everything you need, graduates, to be successful in life. I am personally proud of you,” she said.
MISD Supt. Dr. J.D. Kennedy praised the graduates for their accomplishments and encouraged them to not let self-doubt hold them back.
“One of the biggest obstacles that stands in the way of young people is self-doubt and self-criticism,” he said. “If you can believe that you truly do have the wings of eagles then you can move forward and be successful in life. That doesn’t mean life is going to be a bed of roses, and you’re never going to run into obstacles or disappointments in yourselves or others, but don’t be too hard on yourselves. Don’t limit yourselves. Self limitation holds people back more than anything else as far as achieving your goals and being successful in life. You have gone through a lot over your career here at Serenity, and you deserve the best. You’ve earned it.”
Congratulations Timothy, Eric, Taylor, Alyssa, Joe, Jayson, Christian, Hallie, Justin, Austin and Sam.
Read a reflection by Justin or Hallie below, or in the Education section of TSB:
Reflection: Just For Today: Click here.
Reflection: Graduation At Last: Click here.
— Cindy Evans, Town Square Buzz