by Alice E. Gerard
On a warm summer's afternoon, three young women and their families sat on folding chairs amidst the gardens of the Huth Road Elementary School courtyard. They were there Friday to receive their high school diplomas after spending hours working on academic areas of difficulty in summer school.
Former Grand Island High School Assistant Principal Andrés Arroyo told the young women, "This is a great experience that you have had. It takes resolve to say, 'I am going to push forward through adversity.' " He added that the word "commencement," which is used as a synonym for graduation, also means a beginning to something new.
One of the graduates, Courtney Simon, 18, said that she would like to be a dog trainer. She said that she enjoys dog agility exercises with her three dogs. At school, she liked "the arts classes and other electives," as well as biology. Her favorite class, she said, was photography. But mathematics was a hurdle for her. She had difficulty with trigonometry, the study of the relationships involving lengths and angles of triangles. Unfortunately, Simon said that she failed trigonometry and was required to retake the class in summer school. To graduate from high school, students are required to successfully complete three years of mathematics.
"I conquered the mountain of trigonometry," said Simon, dressed in a white cap and gown.
Simon said, "It's weird being a graduate. I'm not used to it." She said that she works at PetSmart, 2101 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo. "I will work there for a while and will then figure out my future plans."
Simon's mother, Kristina, said, "I'm very proud of Courtney. She's come a long way over the past years. She's definitely become the young lady that I knew she would be." Courtney Simon has one sister, Jordan, 13.
After graduation, mother and daughter were headed to a Mexican restaurant for a celebratory lunch.
The graduates were: Courtney Simon, Ryan Arsenault, Amanda Pembleton, Brianda Pembleton and Joel Spencer.