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Commencement salutes students' success

Mid-year ceremony held at Colorado's Finest High School of Choice

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Friends and family members stood and applauded as “Pomp and Circumstance” played and the candidates marched down the aisle to take their seats on the stage Jan. 13 during Colorado's Finest High School of Choice commencement ceremonies.

The graduation was preceded by the rose ceremony. Students at the Englewood school were recognized for the honors they had received and for scholarships awarded. Also during the ceremony each student was recognized, awards were presented before the young man or woman was given a rose to pass to the person he or she felt did the most to get to this milestone in life.

Then it was time for the 26 students to don robes and mortar boards as they prepared to receive their diplomas.

On the stage each student was accompanied by his or her teacher to the podium. The teacher said a few words about the student's accomplishments, challenges overcome and plans for the future before handing the candidate the diploma and moving the mortar board tassel from right to left, signifying the individual was now a high school graduate.

Earlier in the ceremony Layla “Sam” Hawker was one of three students who gave speeches.

She told the audience that her health problems made it difficult for her to complete her high school education.

“I am autistic and learn differently. One teacher told my mother than in 20 years she had never had a student like me and that wasn't said as a compliment,” she said. “In the several schools I went to I tried to learn, but if I asked for help I didn't get it. I also was bullied. That was my experience until I came to Colorado's Finest.”

She said she was welcomed at Colorado's Finest and felt that teachers understood her struggles with learning and looked beyond her health problems.

“All the students accepted for who I am and all the teachers focused on my potential,” Hawker said. “I am very grateful to all the staff and students at Colorado's Finest who believed in me when I didn't believe in myself.”

She said she plans to attend film school because she plans to attend film school because she wants to produce, act a little and animate films.

“I have wanted to make movies since I was a 9-year-old,” Hawker said after she received her diploma. “I love to do animation and have been doing it for years. I want to go to school to more about being behind the camera.”

Her goal is to attend a school in California for autistic young adults who want get into the film industry called Exceptional Adults.

“I have applied to the school and that is where I really would like to go to prepare me for a career in the film industry,” she said.

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