News Column

William Finch graduates set for futures

June 18, 2014

By Susan Meeker, Glenn County Transcript, Calif.

June 18--William Finch Charter School's graduation ceremony on June 10 was unlike other commencement exercises in Glenn County.

There were no valedictorian speeches given before a grandstand full of people with blow-horns and balloons.

There was no lengthy parade of scholarship recipients, nor hugs and tears between classmates who have spent a lifetime together in classrooms, on the playground, in clubs or on the athletic field.

The ceremony, held at Orland's Memorial Hall, marked the promotion of students Glenn County used to refer to as the "home-schooled," but even that too has changed over the years, said Principal Lisa Morgan.

Since the independent program was established more than a decade ago, William Finch, which provides an alternative to traditional school, has geared its Orland campus toward more traditional classroom settings.

It the past year, Williams Finch also has added music and foreign language to its curriculum, produced a year book, held its first talent show, took students on field trips and improved its academic scores.

The graduation ceremony focused on the accomplishments of four eighth graders who were promoted to high school and the 19 seniors who stepped up to receive their diploma, although not all of the graduates participated in the exercise.

"How proud we are at the successes they made," Morgan said of the seniors who stood before her in white caps and gowns, and the eighth-graders is thier blue graduation gowns.

Most had transferred to the charter program because they felt lost in the larger districts.

Shyann Deason of Willows said she felt like she was failing middle school when she left Willows Intermediate School all those years ago for William Finch.

Changing schools was best thing she had ever done, she said.

Now, as a high school graduate, Deason looks back at the William Finch teachers who turned her life around and put her on a path to success.

"It felt like we were all a team," Deason said. "William Finch is a family that has helped me make my dreams come true."

Jared Sahr enrolled in William Finch eight years ago, but said his last year at the charter school was his most memorable.

He too thanked his teachers for his achievements, and said he found a remarkable mentor in Brian Peterson, who joined the Williams Finch staff mid-year in 2013.

"There is no better role model," Sahr said.

Sahr said Peterson inspired him so much, that he plans to change his major in college to music.

During the ceremony, Sahr and Hannah Houtrouw received academic excellence awards for having a grade point average of 3.5 or higher.

Sahr also was awarded a scholarship from Glenn Chorale to continue his education.

The theme of William Finch's graduation was "Wave Goodbye."

The guest speaker was Jessica Roach, a 2007 graduate who said she received the best education at William Finch.

Eighth-grade graduate Crystal Pimentel read the poem, "Change begins with us."


(c)2014 the Glenn County Transcript (Willows, Calif.)

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Source: Glenn County Transcript (CA)

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