Last updated: August 27. 2013 3:48AM - 257 Views

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Reflecting on the past and looking forward to the future were the themes at the Whittier High School graduation ceremony, held Friday at Smith-Cotton Junior High School.

For the first time in school history, a Whittier alum was the keynote speaker at the ceremony.

Whitney Hurt, a 2005 graduate told the 43 graduating students, family and friends gathered, she couldn’t imagine her life without having attended Sedalia’s alternative school.

“When I was a freshmen at a private school I wanted to drop out, but since I was 15 at the time, my parents and I agreed that Whittier would be the best place for me,” she said. “I came in with zero credits and a know-it-all attitude. For a while, I focused on my studies and graduating, but then I started to make some mistakes.”

Hurt credited the Whittier staff with not giving up on her education, saying “I was ready to throw in the towel, but they wouldn’t allow me to. I pushed and they pushed right back.”

“I’m so proud of you,” she added. “You’ve done an amazing thing and now it’s your turn to work hard and make your mark on society.”

“I have butterflies, I’m so proud, so happy and excited. I don’t really know how to describe it,” said graduate Alexis McNeal after the ceremony. “I’ve been at Whittier for just a few months, but it’s really become like a family. The teachers especially make it a great place to be. Mr. (Kelly) Birdsong, he would just drop anything to help a student out.”

Fellow graduate Allison Uribe agreed, noting the teachers are “always around, whenever you ask for help.”

“I’m really proud,” Uribe said. “Whittier is a great place to go if you don’t really fit into the more traditional school, because you can really focus on your own goals and what’s best for you. I’m really going to miss it.”

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