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Northpoint Graduates Thank Teachers, Friends and Family

28 May 2013  

"I don't think there is any impossible student," Geneva Saint-Amour said. 

When Northpoint students graduate, they don't just grab their diplomas, toss their caps in the air and run. Instead, the graduating class members take time during the ceremony to reflect on their experiences at Northpoint - what they've learned, what their families have contributed to their success, and which teachers have impacted their lives. Only when they're done with all that do they take their diploma and toss their caps upwards in celebration.

It was about seven years ago that Melissa Wagoner decided to leave the familiar, safe duties at Prescott High School and jump into teaching at a brand-new high school called Northpoint Expeditionary Learning Academy. This year, as student after student thanked Wagoner for her teaching and investment in their lives, it provided an opportunity to look back at the Northpoint journey.

At first, Wagoner admitted she was a bit embarrassed by the accolades, but then she said, "It makes me believe that I'm doing the right thing with my life, if I can bring that kind of joy and support to them, then all the time and energy was worth it."

"While I totally enjoyed my time at Prescott High School," Wagoner continued, "The community we have at Northpoint is like nothing we've experienced anywhere. My own high school - the last two years were pretty miserable, and everyone told me those were the best years of my life. I didn't believe them. That's why it was important to become a high school teacher, and this particular class really reinforces that I'm doing the right thing."

When asked if she had a final message to the students, Wagoner replied, "I guess my strongest message to the students is to keep on going. Believe in yourself. When someone sees you in a different way than you see yourself, believe in yourself a little bit and give it a shot. Don't hide behind the closed doors, just walk right through them and see what happens."

Geneva Saint-Amour is the director of Northpoint. "It keeps getting easier year after year. There's been some great years and some great classes and we are fortunate enough to be looking forward to more."

She agreed that the teachers make a big difference to the students. "I think it's wonderful that the students who graduate take the time to recognize their staff. I think they start to acknowledge somewhat towards the end that these are people who have contributed to their lives and their success, and helped them make it possible for them to go on to things beyond them. The staff has given them some of the tools they need to get there. We are very fortunate at Northpoint to have an incredible staff, that gives so much time to this school. It shows when we have a celebration like this and get to hear the students' perspective of how much that has meant to each of them."

According to Saint-Amour, there are always opportunities for students. "I don't think there is any impossible student. I think the part that becomes impossible is when the outside world has given up on a student in other settings. Because in our setting, our staff is always willing to put in the time to help those kids figure out what their gift to the world is and develop that completely."

Any final words for the graduates? "Best wishes to all of them, don't look back, keep looking forward and don't slow down," Saint-Amour said with a smile.

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