Ireta Midgley, supervisor of the Provo Young Mothers High School, told students' friends and families at the beginning of the school's graduation ceremonies that this is "a little bit different than most graduations you'll go to, but a very important occasion."
Nineteen women received diplomas from the Provo Board of Education on Tuesday night, while more than 200 friends and family members looked on, clapped, cheered, cried and took photos.Graduate Kimberly Williams said: "I didn't really care about a diploma before I was married and had a baby, but education is a big thing in this mighty world. Who will listen if you can't speak, and who will hire you if you can't write? As a mother I want what is best for my family and myself. Young Mothers High School has helped me toward this."
Other members of the graduating class expressed similar feelings.
Through tears of gratitude, Ella Powell Lung, thanked friends, family members and teachers for the abundant encouragement, confidence and understanding they gave her. "This is a good program to have for young mothers. I have enjoyed the short time I have spent here."
Leslie Petersen said: "Nobody pays attention if you don't have a diploma. I have learned more than I ever thought I could at this school. My family didn't know if I could do it, but I showed them, and I am thankful that I did."
Graduate Claire Beecroft encourage her classmates to "continue to find success and realize that education is a lifelong pursuit. True education is not just learning in books but learning self-esteem."
Perhaps one of the proudest people at the ceremonies was Jacqueline Anderson, mother of one of the graduates. She told them: "I have observed you girls with books in one arm and a diaper bag, baby and car seat in the other. You have persevered and you have accomplished. Although not easy, this is one of the most rewarding decisions you have made.
Special awards were given to seven graduates: Academic Achievement Awards to Heather Anderson, Gina Dorius and Leslie Petersen; Leadership Awards to student body president Angie Housekeeper and vice president Gina Dorius; Academic Fitness Awards to Valerie Lee, mother of two, and Claudia Thomas, mother of three; and Special Citizenship Award to Jody Henderson.