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INDEPENDENCE – The Buchanan County Success Center (BCSC) held a graduation ceremony for six students on Friday, June 26, at the Independence Jr./Sr. High School.

BCSC is an alternative program serving the Independence, Jesup, and East Buchanan school districts. Students attend BCSC for a variety of reasons with one common attribute: due to their current life situation, they are not experiencing success in a traditional high school setting. BCSC is concerned with the total student, including social, emotional, and academic growth.

The ceremony included the graduates entering to “Pomp and Circumstance” and a welcome message from Independence Community School District Superintendent Russ Reiter. Ms. Erin Maurer, BCSC assistant, introduced the graduates and their parents:

- Dominic R. Black (son of Jennifer and Eric Terrell)

- Brandon R. Heim (son of Debbie and Joe Heim)

- Jaclyn Leticia “Jax” Miller (daughter of Joelene Miller and Todd Miller)

- Nathaniel Lee Stirm (son of Sheila Stirm)

- Mariah E. Wiltsey (daughter of Vonda and Jeremy Wiltsey)

- Joseph D. “The Joey D” Zieser (son of Sherry and Curt Zieser

The students presented a carnation to their parents, followed by hugs.

A heartfelt tradition for the BCSC graduates is to give a short speech of appreciation. The speeches are personal testimonials of their educational and sometimes life journey to graduation. They take the opportunity to publicly thank those who have helped and encouraged them along the way.

After the speeches, the next BCSC tradition is the bestowing of fun gifts from Maurer and Ms. Shelly Bertelli, BCSC coordinator. Although the budget is small, the gifts are well thought out based on the personality, an interest, or an experience of the student.

However, due to COVID-19 guidelines, the graduates, Maurer, and Bertelli all donned ponchos and masks. As the gifts were announced, the graduate came up for a hug from their BCSC teachers.

Independence School Board President Eric Smith and Vice President Kim Hansen then presented diplomas and graduation tassels.

The graduates and families were then invited to get photos and converse with guests and administrators. In addition to Superintendent Reiter, Jr./Sr. High School Principal John Howard and Assistant Principal Dewey Hupke were in attendance.