The Kokomo Crossing Educational Center celebrated its 2nd Annual Graduation ceremony on June 15 at New Life Church in Kokomo. “We had 16 graduates from our region, including five from Kokomo,” noted Shannon Querry, Community Development and Careers Coordinator for the Crossing. For the five Kokomo students, Chereese Carpenter, David Donnell, Ashley Harris, Ann Najar, and Jessica Stanley, the Crossing represented a different – and more inviting – path for the students.
“School was going very slow for me, and I needed something faster that was more my pace,” Carpenter said. “One of the biggest benefits of going to the Crossing would have to be the teachers, and their support, and all they do. They set an example that makes me want to try harder to be better.”
Harris agreed. “They’ve helped me grow a lot. Love and trust – I’ve had a lot of issues with.” “At the Crossing, I’ve found it’s just more loving, I love that about the people at the Crossing.”
New grad David Donnell said the Crossing represented an unexpected second chance. “I thought I was done with school for good,” Donnell said. “Until I got this certain letter that said ‘you’ve been selected to enroll in the Crossing.’ I wanted to finish my education and get a diploma, so I decided to try this out, get myself involved, and here I am. I’m already graduating and I’m very proud of myself. The Crossing has really been a big impact on my life.”
Querry believes the graduation ceremony was just as significant for the Crossing’s current students. “It’s so encouraging to our other students to see that they can actually get this done,” she said. “When they come to the Crossing, there is usually a hopelessness in their eyes, and they’re filled with such doubt. But when they come to graduation and see the kids that walk alongside them every day succeed, there is now a hope and a belief in their eyes.”
That hope is evident in the plans of the graduating class of 2013. Ann Najar plans to attend college and study early childhood education. “I just like to hear children and would like to help them learn the right way,” she said. Ashley Harris would like to pursue a degree in criminal justice, while Jessica Stanley will pursue an associate’s degree at Ivy Tech and would like to be a mortician.
David Donnell has applied for the manufacturing certificate program at Ivy Tech, but that is only the beginning for him. “I want to attend Purdue and study engineering,” he said. “I would like to work on planes and jets in the military, or something similar.”
Chereese Carpenter, considered by her peers to be somewhat quiet and shy, has a more unconventional plan. “I would like to travel the world, in particular the Asian countries of Japan and Korea,” she said. “I plan on being a translator, because I really like Japanese and Korean culture.”
That may be surprising to some, but not to Querry. “The heart of what we do at the Crossing is relationships,” she said. “Beyond the academics, these kids are stretching their social skills, developing their character, and reaching out to others through service.” Querry credits the service projects for drawing out the personalities of the students, and teaching them the proper communication skills. “When they are in a social setting, the situation may require them to be more outgoing than they are accustomed to being,” Querry said. “For others, they may have to learn to be more quiet. Either way, they are learning important life skills that help them in almost any circumstance.”
The Crossing Educational Center is always seeking new students, and will host an Open House and registration opportunity on July 18th. “There are a number of students out there who are struggling, or have dropped out, or are falling into hopelessness,” noted Querry. “We want them to know there is another option for them.”
According to their mission statement, the Crossing seeks “to help struggling individuals becomes transformed, fulfilled, and contributing members of society through faith-based education and caring relationships.”
Querry repeated that relationships are the foundation of the program.
“All you had to do was come to the graduation ceremony to see how much these kids and teachers care about each other. There is no better educational tool than love, and that’s what they find at the Crossing.”
Click here to view the original article: Kokomo Herald]]>