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The national high school graduate rate has hit a record high at 81.4 percent, but a number of students and communities must be reached to continue that growth. Today’s global economy demands a more educated workforce, requiring more students to graduate from high school prepared for post-secondary education and career.Public media is helping local communities keep more students on the path to a high school diploma, college & successful careers.WSKG is a proud community hub station of American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen! Check back often for local Education news reports, media produced by teens from our area, and opportunities to get involved!

Seniors Reflect on Personal Success Found in Career-Tech Education

Champions go by many titles: teacher, coach, neighbor, friend, boss, classmate, or parent… Just to name a few! As part of WSKG’s program on graduation, we asked students to tell us about the person, place, or program that helps them find successful in school. 

Thomas Adams and Siena Petrilli point to life-changing educators as their champions: keeping them on the path to graduation and headed toward success after high school.

Thomas Adams is working toward his high school diploma from EverTech Academy at Broome Tioga BOCES in Binghamton, NY. He is studying Carpentry in the Center for Career & Technical Excellence. After graduation, Thomas plans to attend ITT Tech or SUNY Broome and put his carpentry skills to work as a member of the local carpenter's union.

Submitted by Thomas Adams:I was miserable. I dreaded the thought of school in the morning. I would wake up and just skip school. Day after day, I’d skip school just to see some happiness in those seven hours. Eventually, my grades started dropping. I was failing everything. I was doing bad things and getting in trouble. I was on my way to destroying my future. I was not going to graduate.One day, my principal asked me: What do you want? There is was - The question I’d been waiting for my whole school life. Finally, I had the chance to make my own choice and learn how I feel works best!Then, my principal told me about Evertech Academy, and it was like a dream. Three years ago I came to this school ready to fail and go nowhere in life. Now, I only have a few months left of high school, and I feel better than ever. I feel ready. I want to go to college and make a life for myself. Now, thanks to Evertech, I can! My champion is my school, Evertech Academy. 

 Siena Petrilli is working toward her high school diploma from EverTech Academy at Broome Tioga BOCES in Binghamton, NY. She is studying Cosmetology in the Center for Career & Technical Excellence.

Submitted by Siena Petrilli:My teachers mean the world to me, and I appreciate all they do for me.Mrs. Crossgrove, You always pick me up when I am down with your kind and loving attitude. You showed me I could do it and helped me pasted my Regents exam. I couldn’t be more thankful.Mrs. Donovan, You help motivate me to come to school everyday and constantly give me great advice. I am beyond grateful for your wisdom because, without it, I would not be as successful as I am today.Mrs. Thompson, You push me to my limits to help me graduate. I’m grateful because, if you didn’t push me constantly, I probably wouldn’t be coming to school and doing what I have to do to graduate. You will always have a big spot in my heart.My champions are my teachers, Mrs. Crossgrove, Mrs. Donovan, and Mrs. Thompson.


Sharing Student Voices

Thomas and Siena's reflections were selected submissions from  Who’s Your Champion? community callout. Their stories are part of a collection of student reflections celebrating the individuals who provide endless help, support, and encouragement along the challenging path to high school graduation.Thanks for sharing your story, Thomas and Siena, and honoring your unique school and inspiring teachers. We are glad you have found a program that brings you educational success and look forward to what you will achieve after graduation! 

More Champion Stories

Learn about the individuals and programs supporting students across Upstate New York. These featured champions were nominated by community members or honored by students from EverTech Academy at Broome Tioga BOCES.  American Graduate is made possible by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.