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Not your usual graduation

By Staff | Jun 2, 2013

After a move to a new location, a local alternative learning center can say it had a successful school year.

Southern Plains Education Cooperative moved into the Winnebago Elementary School building at the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year, in order to bring its services to students in Faribault County.

After a year of trials and tribulations, the students and staff held the first ALC?graduation in Winnebago on May 29.

The students wore their caps and gowns and lined up to receive certificates of completion.

Stephanie Schmitz, coordinator of alternative programs at Southern Plains Education Cooperative, welcomed the students and presented the certificates.

“We are proud to say that we have 13 students receiving certificates,”?she says.

Schmitz explains that the students will receive diplomas from their schools, as well, once the respective graduation ceremonies are held.

Dale Brandsoy, former superintendent of Blue Earth Area Schools, was the guest speaker for the ceremony.

“It’s great to see how much this means to these students,”?Brandsoy says. “They are so excited to have completed this program.”

There were 11 students present to receive their certificates, with two students absent from the ceremony.

The staff also took time to acknowledge the student of the year from the group of graduates.

“Usually the staff toils over this decision throughout the year, but this year it was a unanimous agreement from the start,” Schmitz says.

She explains that the student deserves to be recognized for his school work and hard work ethic and presented Kyle Engstrom with the award.

The ceremony was followed by a small reception in the gym for friends and family of the graduates.

Southern Plains Education Cooperative is an alternative learning center that services five main school districts, which include Martin County West, Granada-Huntley-East Chain, Blue Earth Area, Fairmont Area and Truman.

The program’s goal is to provide an educational setting that assists students with special learning needs. The Winnebago location is staffed with a full-time teacher, full-time paraprofessional, a social worker and a mental health therapist.