GREAT FALLS – Thirty-one graduates walked across the stage in front of family, friends and educators Wednesday evening at the Paris Gibson Education Center to receive their high school diplomas.
Paris Gibson Education Center is a school included in Great Falls Public Schools, but is for students who still want to reach their educational goals somewhere other than their traditional high school.
It’s a school of choice where students must plan independently and work hard to reach graduation.
Paris Gibson principal Drew Uecker said during the ceremony, “These kids were forgotten by a lot of people. A lot of people gave up on them. A lot of these kids fought through adversity. They represent some of the very best of society and some of the very worst.”
One graduate, Jasmine Smith, decided to go back to school after giving birth to her daughter, “I decided to come here because they have a day care.”
The school is known to work with you at your own pace. Jasmine added, “I still have time to be a mom and still get my work done.”
Sarah Dahl, another graduate, said she decided to come here because she was failing at C.M. Russell High School as the educational program wasn’t working for her.
Sarah said, “It was going too fast or it was going too slow and I just couldn’t get caught up or I was getting bored with the process of how slow it was going.”
Sarah added she loved the independence and working with what you want to work with while at Paris Gibson Education Center. She said, “It’s really amazing cause I thought if I stuck with CMR I would be a super senior, but here I’m now an early grad.”
Some facts about this year’s winter graduates: Twenty-four are currently employed and eight out of those 24 work 40 hours or more a week. Two have their CNA certification, four have college credit through dual enrollment, two are parents, one is a guardswoman, 18 plan to enroll in college, four are currently attending college outside of Great Falls, eight live on their own with no family or parent, three are homeless, and five have or will enlist in one of the armed services.
Reporting by Kasey Herman for MTN News