Two West Side Academy seniors graduating in June have followed different journeys to their destination, thanks to the school's unique education model.
WSA has long been a school where students come to catch up on credits they may have lost in freshman or sophomore year by moving through the curriculum at an accelerated pace and concentrating on courses through extended day classes. Nia Kelley, 16, and Ashlee Diamond, 18, are two examples.
Kelley is defying the odds of making up classes by getting on track to graduate at the end of the 2016-17 school year. She has been a student at WSA for two and a half years, and during that time has excelled in all of her classes. While not necessarily planning to graduate early, Kelley was surprised to find out the news by her counselor Andrea Hollingshed and WSA Principal Andrea Ayler.
"It's pretty shocking, since I assumed I would have another whole year in school," said Kelley. Although most classes were easy to her, she did have more struggles in math than other subjects. "Math has definitely been the most challenging subject for me, but because I knew that, I just worked harder in those classes," said Kelley. Kelley credits her mother, family, teachers and principal for keeping her on track during her early years in high school. "I would like to thank Mrs. Suzanne Olsen, Mr. Donald Evans, attendance agents Mr. Alvin Belcher and Mr. Michael Godwin, my mother and my family for helping me and believing in me. Without them and their support, I would not have felt like I could have handled the pressure of taking extra online classes and moving forward so quickly," said Kelley.
Kelley will be 17 when she graduates and she plans to attend Oakland University after graduation, but has no plan for her major.
Diamond came to WSA two years ago behind in credits, but determined to get back on track. At the time, she was close to a year behind. She not only caught up on her credits, but she chose to spread out her last few classes over next semester, rather than graduate early.
Being an athlete is very important to Diamond, so she opted to stay in order to finish out her last basketball, softball and track seasons.
"It has been difficult to catch up, but it was worth all of the extra hours of homework and studying," said Diamond.