By Leah Sander
BURKET — Burket Educational Center’s graduation Thursday, May 19, wasn’t only special for the Class of 2022.
It also meant that more than 400 students have graduated from Burket since its inception.
Fourteen students are members of the 2022 class, the 19th one since Burket, Tippecanoe Valley School Corp.’s alternative high school, started. Ten were on hand for Thursday’s ceremony at Burket’s historical gym.
Burket’s teacher Micah Lukens gave opening remarks at the ceremony.
“The students that you see here today have worked hard to get where they are,” he said. “They’ve had to overcome many personal obstacles and challenges. They had to make the passage from youth to adulthood.”
“When it came to earning a diploma, these students buckled down, and they focused on a very significant moment in their life, a moment that will have a great effect for them in future generations,” said Lukens.
Tippecanoe Valley High School Assistant Principal and Burket Program Director Dayna Kolanowski also spoke. She’s been in both roles for a year.
“I just want you to know I’ve enjoyed getting to know each of you this school year, and I hope that you all keep the memories of Burket with you for a lifetime,” she said. “Please now step out, take a deep breath and be successful in all that you do.”
Before congratulating each graduate and telling a bit about their journeys to graduation, Lukens pointed out: “Two have earned academic or technical honors diplomas, (and) six have earned Core 40 diplomas.”
“The group has completed 211 courses on their Apex Learning (the center’s online curriculum provider), mastered 1,243 units of study, including 8,356 individual quizzes,” he added. “They have spent 284,000 minutes on their coursework. This does not include the time they have spent with teachers one-on-one.”
Lukens told InkFreeNews after the ceremony that the class has “been through a lot with three (school) years affected by (the COVID-19 pandemic).”
“All students like consistency. Students who have had academic or behavioral issues need consistency even more and they lost that opportunity (with COVID),” said Lukens.
Byron Tinkey, a paraprofessional at Burket, also added his thoughts on the graduating class.
“I’m very impressed with the hard work of all the kids that have graduated today. They’re an inspiration,” he said.
Lukens reflected on having reached 403 Burket graduates with the Class of 2022 graduating.
“It’s a big honor for us,” he said. “I just think of each one.”
“I think it’s a huge accomplishment. I’m super proud of all of them,” added Kolanowski.
“It’s such an important thing for the whole community to chip in and help the kids and that number is a reflection on that,” said Lukens.