Delta Charter celebrates first graduating class

Published 1:25 am Saturday, May 20, 2017

By Christian Coffman

Ferriday — Four years ago, the Class of 2017 at Delta Charter School began the climb toward graduation.

Standing at the top Friday night, the school’s first graduating class, along with faculty, family and many others in attendance, celebrated what valedictorian Caitlin Morgan Ballard described as a mountaintop experience.

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Ballard said she was honored to represent the school as its first valedictorian, giving thanks to all who helped in her accomplishments.

“From the very bottom of our hearts, thank you … for not giving up on us,” Ballard said.

To her classmates, Ballard wondered what was next now that they find themselves at the top of the mountain.

“We can see the valleys below us; we can see the rivers around us, we can see the fields of green grass on the other side, and off in the distance we can see another mountain peak,” Ballard said.

The valedictorian said she and her classmates have a choice to make, and that choice is defined by the countless roads ahead, many with obstacles along the way.

“My advice to you, Class of 2017 (is to) set your sight on that distant mountaintop, and disregard what lies below you,” Ballard said. “Disregard what lies below you. Do not fear the things that stand in your way.”

Salutatorian Jania Nichelle Burns said her classmates were all guilty of counting down the days to graduation, thinking they had all grown up so much.

Burns described high school events in which, with the help of their teachers, even the shy students discovered their voices.

As much as they might feel grown up, Burns reminded her classmates that as graduates and individuals headed into the real world, they are all allowed to say, “I don’t know.”

Guest speaker Craig Jackson also reminded the graduates the importance perseverance and not losing sight of goals, pointing to the birth of the school as an example.

Jackson was among the group of organizers who fought to make Delta Charter School a reality.  With hard work and dedication the school opened its doors to student in the fall 2013.

“If you’re on the right side of good, it might take a while to get to where you want to be, but you’ll get there,” Jackson said.

Jackson listed all of the surrounding towns from where the graduates came, from Ferriday to Monterey to Sicily Island.

“This graduating class is easily the most diverse class in one hundred miles,” Jackson said.

As one of the school’s founders Jackson said the Class of 2017 will always be special and that he wanted to thank them for choosing Delta Charter.

“For taking a chance, for getting out of your comfort zone … you left a comfortable school with comfortable friends, and you chose a new school,” Jackson said. “It will bode well once you go to college and have new roommates.”