BRIGHTON — Five students from Brighton Heritage Academy donned their caps and gowns for the school’s third-quarter graduation Friday. Seniors Brixton Burke, Ariana Delgadillo, Jasmine Hernandez, Michael Rogers and Carlos Torres received their diplomas from 27J Superintendent Chris Fiedler during the ceremony.
Each of the seniors were able to tell their story of what they had to overcome in order to graduate and selected a teacher to speak on behalf of them and were able to speak on heir behalf.
Tribute and math teacher Jake Nelson spoke on behalf of Burke and admitted there was a time when he thought Burke wasn’t going to graduate.
“He did what so many kids do here, he went through the motions... he was just taking up space in the class,” Nelson said. “And then he had the audacity to talk about what he was going to do when he graduated. He was dreaming of a future that was never going to happen.”
Then one day, after commenting on the poor quality of his work in class, Nelson learned just how much Burke cared about graduating and that it changed everything between them.
“Brixton began working his tail off, he started bringing his assignments back completed. He began to look for questions that he’d missed...He even began to challenge me on why he though his solution was better than the one I had,” he said, adding he began coming in early every morning for the last three quarters to talk about his life, his mistakes, his choices and his future.
“You know how I said you just took up space in my room but now that you’re not there I feel the emptiness,” he said, adding that Burke will serve as a reminder to never give up on his students.
Burke plans to enlist in the military.
Tribute and Campus Supervisor Camie Byerly said Torres came to BHA with the goal in mind – to graduate. Torres said he knew he wasn’t going to be able to graduate at the end of 2013 so he decided to go to BHA. He said he felt welcome at the school and was able to succeed.
Since art has always been his escape route and has been able to bring him out of his lowest places, Torres would like to become an artist or fashion designer in New York City. Byerly said Torres is self-motivated and believes in his abilities as an artist.
“He is choosing a path doing what he loves and I’m sure that it will bring him much happiness in his life,” she said.
Rogers thought graduation was out of the picture because he lived in California but he decided to relocate to Colorado so he could attend BHA. His tribute and Secretary Naomi Gallawa said his choice to move to Colorado made all the difference and that he continued to make choices that enabled him to graduate. After graduation, Rogers would like to start a career in the oil and gas industry.
Although Jasmine Hernandez had only attended BHA for one quarter, Tribute and P.E. And Health Teacher Lynn Jones said she learned Hernandez has two big passions in her life: Horses and the Army. Jones said both of those passions are symbols of strength, power and freedom which are all qualities Jones has. Hernandez will be joining the Army after graduation and she would like to pursue a career in law enforcement and criminal justice.