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They wore caps and gowns, and a gold “17” adorned their tassels. There were commencement speakers and letters of congratulations. And there were many pictures taken with favorite teachers and counselors.
Eight students of the Sprain Brook Academy graduated this month, and in many respects it was a ceremony like so many others. Family members and friends turned out, for example, to congratulate them and celebrate the achievement.
Southern Westchester BOCES operates the academy at the Westchester County jail in partnership with, and with support from, the county Department of Corrections, meeting the mandate that every person entitled to a high school education has such access.
The mission of the program is to create positive outcomes through education. Graduates expressed gratitude for chance to make choices that will improve their paths in life.
“I want to thank my beautiful mother over there,” said graduate Bronco Flores. “Without her I would not have accomplished anything.”
Graduate Jaheim Murray said he learned respect, loyalty and responsibility in the program and thanked his teachers and counselors by name for their support. If it wasn’t for them, Murray said, he would never have succeeded.
Claudia Murphy, director of Adult and Community Services told the graduates they’d achieved something to feel wonderful about. An education, Murphy said, is something no one can ever take from you.
“So what you have here today will last you a lifetime,” she said.
Murphy handed out letters of congratulations to the graduates from state Sen. Terrence Murphy of Yorktown.
During the ceremony, retiring teachers Joan Edwards Acuna and Nick Perna were honored for their years of service to the program.