Glynn Foothills Site Graduation big success

Glynn Foothills Site Graduation big success
Posted on 06/09/2017
This is the image for the news article titled Glynn Foothills Site Graduation big successBy LAUREN MCDONALD

Jin Yun no longer believed he’d get to wear a graduation gown.

Kicked out of his family’s house while a student at Brunswick High, Yun was forced to drop out of school and find full-time employment.

“I’d been thinking I’d graduate, and then the next thing you know an obstacle comes along,” he said. “And I got kicked out of my house. And because I had to work, to have money for food, I had to drop out of school.”

On Thursday evening, though, Yun reclaimed that lost dream to graduate high school. Yun, who also goes by Danny, wore a blue cap and gown to Glynn County’s first Foothills Education Charter High School graduation.

Yun was one of five to graduate in the first class at the local Foothills site, which opened in Glynn County in January. Two students walked in Thursday’s ceremony.

The Foothills charter program, based in Danielsville, brought a satellite campus to Brunswick to replace the local night high school program and to serve local young adults for whom the traditional high school experience doesn’t work.

“We’re always glad to see anybody earn that diploma,” said Elizabeth McLaine, a teacher who attended the graduation. “But these kids, this is their choice to continue on and do this.”

The students attending the Foothills program often are facing additional challenges to earning their diplomas, McLaine said.

“A lot of them are working during the day, so they make that effort to come here at night and are doing extra work to get it done,” she said. “And they’ve done it in a short amount of time … we just opened in January.”

And Robert Pope, the local site director, said the graduation ceremony offered these students the same sense of accomplishment their peers receive.

“It is the goal of Foothills Education Charter High School to assure that each student receives the education they deserve,” Pope said. “Tonight, our graduates, we say to you, you are the shining examples of a successful completion of this program. Not only are you high school graduates, but you made history tonight by being the first.”

Kaitlin Lazo, who also walked in Thursday’s ceremony, had tears in her eyes as she stepped up to accept her diploma.

“I know I’ve made my whole family proud,” she said after the ceremony, wiping away more tears.

Her father, Cesar Lazo, said ‘proud’ was an understatement.

“It’s very emotional,” he said. “It’s an awesome feeling, seeing her reach this point. And I know that it’s a starting point. It’s the first step, a big first step.”

Yun’s former teacher, Kim Hawthorne, attended his graduation Thursday, and she said she felt great joy watching him earn his diploma.

“I taught Danny at Brunswick High before he dropped out. I was devastated,” she said. “I had him the semester he dropped out, and it was hard for him. So I was so happy to see him graduate tonight … he’s a great kid.”

Yun had to work two jobs while earning credits at Foothills. But he said the extra effort was worth it.

“Honestly, it feels mind-blowing to think that I actually could be in the gown,” he said.