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GRADUATION: CENTRAL

It was redemption night for the 100 graduating seniors at Central High School, Granite District's alternative high school, Thursday night.

For these graduates, a high school diploma means more than simply completing 12 years of public school. It represents overcoming major obstacles, sometimes including self-doubt and family-doubt, and major social problems that often force lesser students to give up the high-school dream.There was a constant theme running through the student speeches Thursday: We made it in spite of the odds.

Jenny Barnard told her fellow graduates to keep the graduation theme, "One Goal Reached, But Many Beyond," in mind as they move forward from Central High.

"It was so important not to give up, and that same determination must continue past this night," Barnard said. "Well, we made it, and we should be proud. Nobody did this except you."

Nikke Stevenson spoke of irony. "You know, I guess it's ironic, but most of us ended up here for what other schools considered unwilling and unmotivated (attitudes).

"But the only thing I am not motivated to do is to say that I would ever have been as happy to stand in any other graduating class than that of Central High."

And, added Micki Fox, "My advice to all students trying to graduate is to stick with it and don't let anything hold you back. . . . no matter what has happened in the past, if you work hard enough you can accomplish anything, and today we have proved that."