BVHS to graduate 11 at midyear ceremony

By: 
Jamie Hult, Staff writer
“Pomp and Circumstance” is coming a semester ahead of schedule for 11 Brandon Valley High School seniors next week. 
Starting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15, midyear graduation will take place in the Performing Arts Center. 
Eleven students will be awarded diplomas – and all for different reasons. Most are graduating a semester ahead of their classmates, often eager to get a jumpstart on their college, military or workforce careers. Still others finish high school midyear to move with their families, or they took an extra semester to finish their coursework. 
“It’s a wide range, which makes the ceremony unique and neat,” said BVHS principal Mark Schlekeway. “They get a graduation ceremony that can maybe be personalized to them a little bit.”
Like many high school graduates, Anissa Robinson simply doesn’t have the resources to attend a traditional, four-year college. 
Robinson, who turns 18 three days after she’ll graduate, is frank about her situation. 
“I grew up in a home where nothing’s handed to me. I have to make money in order to go to college,” she said. “So for me, graduating early gives me the opportunity to save some money up to get my future on track. Nobody’s going to do it for me, so this is what I have to do in order to get the things I want in life.”
Robinson has found a way to earn money while continuing her education. After graduating next Wednesday, she’s bound for Job Corps, a free, residential education and job training program for young adults, where she plans on earning a nursing license in a year and a half.
“It’s basically like a job and a school at the same time,” she explained.
Natalie Brekhus has an altogether different plan for herself post-high school, though hers is equally mapped out. Twelve days after graduating, she’ll start Marine Corps boot camp in South Carolina. 
“I talked to all the branches, and the Marine Corps seemed more like a family,” she said. “I decided to graduate early and leave in advance because I’ll have more job opportunities in the beginning of the year, and it’s a lot better leaving for South Carolina and boot camp in the winter.” 
BVHS doesn’t hold a midyear graduation with every class; typically, there needs to be at least five students to warrant the event. The school had seven students collect their diplomas midyear in 2018 and none in 2019. Each class averages three to 10 midyear grads, Schlekeway said. This year, a commencement speaker has been tapped to deliver a “short message of inspiration” to the 11 midyear grads. 
“It’s a different ceremony than when you’re graduating 250 in one day,” Schlekeway said.
Approximately 240 BVHS seniors will collect their diplomas May 17, and will be one of the smallest graduating classes in recent years. Next fall, they’ll be replenished by around 340 incoming freshmen, upping the high school’s population by 100 students.

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