Flint Hills Learning Center sets record with 84 graduates
Graduates will participate in commencement May 21
Flint Hills Learning Center held its annual spring commencement exercises Tuesday afternoon.
This was a special year for the center, which graduated a record 84 students. The prior record was 64 students for the class of 2013.
The Learning Center has worked together with Emporia High School in years past, but EHS Principal Dr. Britton Hart said both staffs have developed an integrated approach to meet the needs of students, regardless of their age or prior education level.
“We have created a culture that supports high school staff and Learning Center staff to ensure that all students we serve are getting their needs met and not having interruptions in their learning, depending on whether they are at the Learning Center or at the high school,” he said. “Kudos to the Learning Center staff for implementing some new strategies to make sure they make contact with every student, whether they are there every day, every week or we haven’t had contact with them for some time.”
Sullivan and her staff have “gone the extra mile” to make sure students succeed, including taking them to and from class or providing snacks. She said personal contact is a big part of a student’s success.
“We still have all the attributes in place to remove barriers. We still have the supervised play area. We still have flexible hours and extended hours. We still have the one-on-one help with our staff. We still have online curriculum if they want to have access to that 24-7. But we have added this layer of personal contact and outreach,” Sullivan said.
This was also a special time for the graduates, including Luis and Sasha Renteria. The husband-and-wife couple wanted to finish their high school studies and had enough credits to qualify as juniors when they resumed their school work. With jobs and a young family, though, it was initially hard to get started.
“We were struggling because we couldn’t get to school and work,” Sasha Renteria said. “It was complicated.”
That could be an understatement. Both work the night shift at Alma Foods while the couple raises two young children. But both found a way to attend classes through the Learning Center and complete both their junior and senior years of education.
“We were taking two or three hours per day if we could squeeze it in,” Sasha Renteria said. “We had a computer at home. We also printed out worksheets and took them to work with us,” she added.
“Life was a struggle. There were long hours with little sleep,” Luis Renteria said. “I had some family members and other people who told me, ‘Don’t finish. You don’t sleep enough and you don’t have time for this.’ But I wanted to finish.”
The Renterias said Tuesday’s graduation ceremony was “very important” for them as a couple and family.
“It took us a long time, but we did it,” Sasha Renteria said.
Students who received their diplomas Tuesday will also be involved in Sunday’s Emporia High School graduation ceremony at 3 p.m. at William L. White Auditorium.
Separately, Emporia High and the Flint Hills Learning Center are working with local employers on a venture to provide on-site learning opportunities. Plans are currently under development.
About the Flint Hills Learning Center
Located inside Flinthills Mall, the Flint Hills Learning Center provides a way for students to obtain their high school diploma. It also offers programs to enhance workplace skills for students.