School officials said they appreciated the use of the ballroom since Athens State does not charge a facility fee. But next year they hope to move the ceremony to a larger space because the program has grown since Limestone County Schools and Ombudsman began its partnership in August 2009.
The program was started to improve the graduation rate among the Limestone district’s nontraditional learners. Students are referred to Ombudsman if they are behind in course credits, or have adult responsibilities that prevent them from being successful in a traditional school setting.
“There is a misconception that we have bad students but we don’t have bad kids. They are just behind in their credits for a variety of reasons, and this is their second chance,” said Brown, who paused momentarily during the ceremony when she mentioned the students who biked or walked to the center. “This year it was more emotional because of students that worked so hard, and we worked so hard with them.”
Brown said all graduating students in the program receive a state-sanctioned diploma. She said some students also earn the traditional district diploma if they meet the requirements of their home high school and pass the state graduation exam.