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Tri-County School graduates know about overcoming adversity

  • Daniel Davenport waves while walking in the procession of graduates Wednesday during commencement exercises at Tri-County School in Easthampton. Davenport was named Student of the Year and also delivered one of five student speeches.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Daniel Davenport waves while walking in the procession of graduates Wednesday during commencement exercises at Tri-County School in Easthampton. Davenport was named Student of the Year and also delivered one of five student speeches.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Tri-County School Class of 2013 graduate Jimmy Hidalgo, right, hugs his teacher, Lamar Newsome, after Newsome named him as the high school's Student Citizen of the Year during commencement Wednesday at the school. Earlier in the program, Newsome was named Teacher of the Year.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Tri-County School Class of 2013 graduate Jimmy Hidalgo, right, hugs his teacher, Lamar Newsome, after Newsome named him as the high school's Student Citizen of the Year during commencement Wednesday at the school. Earlier in the program, Newsome was named Teacher of the Year.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Kaitlyn Koziol laughs during the Tri-County School commencement Wednesday at the school. She was named middle school Student Citizen of the Year.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Kaitlyn Koziol laughs during the Tri-County School commencement Wednesday at the school. She was named middle school Student Citizen of the Year.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • William Lewis walks in the procession of graduates Wednesday during commencement exercises at Tri-County School in Easthampton. <br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    William Lewis walks in the procession of graduates Wednesday during commencement exercises at Tri-County School in Easthampton.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Mayor Michael Tautznik, right, receives the Award of Appreciation from Tri-County School Principal Stephen Dion during commencement Wednesday at the school.JERREY ROBERTS

    Mayor Michael Tautznik, right, receives the Award of Appreciation from Tri-County School Principal Stephen Dion during commencement Wednesday at the school.JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Danielle Benoit speaks during commencement Wednesday at Tri-County School in Easthampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Danielle Benoit speaks during commencement Wednesday at Tri-County School in Easthampton.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Zackery McGovern, top, returns to his seat after speaking during the Tri-County School commencement Wednesday at the school.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Zackery McGovern, top, returns to his seat after speaking during the Tri-County School commencement Wednesday at the school.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Lamar Newsome, center, receives the Teacher of the Year award from Tri-County School Principal Stephen Dion Wednesday at the school.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Lamar Newsome, center, receives the Teacher of the Year award from Tri-County School Principal Stephen Dion Wednesday at the school.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Daniel Davenport receives the Tri-County School Student of the Year award from Susan Tallon and Thomas Medlock during commencement Wednesday at the school.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Daniel Davenport receives the Tri-County School Student of the Year award from Susan Tallon and Thomas Medlock during commencement Wednesday at the school.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Tri-County School Class of 2013 graduate Jimmy Hidalgo, right, hugs his teacher, Lamar Newsome, after Newsome named him as the high school's Student Citizen of the Year during commencement Thursday at the school. Earlier in the program, Newsome was named Teacher of the Year.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Tri-County School Class of 2013 graduate Jimmy Hidalgo, right, hugs his teacher, Lamar Newsome, after Newsome named him as the high school's Student Citizen of the Year during commencement Thursday at the school. Earlier in the program, Newsome was named Teacher of the Year.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Daniel Davenport waves while walking in the procession of graduates Wednesday during commencement exercises at Tri-County School in Easthampton. Davenport was named Student of the Year and also delivered one of five student speeches.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Tri-County School Class of 2013 graduate Jimmy Hidalgo, right, hugs his teacher, Lamar Newsome, after Newsome named him as the high school's Student Citizen of the Year during commencement Wednesday at the school. Earlier in the program, Newsome was named Teacher of the Year.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Kaitlyn Koziol laughs during the Tri-County School commencement Wednesday at the school. She was named middle school Student Citizen of the Year.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • William Lewis walks in the procession of graduates Wednesday during commencement exercises at Tri-County School in Easthampton. <br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Mayor Michael Tautznik, right, receives the Award of Appreciation from Tri-County School Principal Stephen Dion during commencement Wednesday at the school.JERREY ROBERTS
  • Danielle Benoit speaks during commencement Wednesday at Tri-County School in Easthampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Zackery McGovern, top, returns to his seat after speaking during the Tri-County School commencement Wednesday at the school.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Lamar Newsome, center, receives the Teacher of the Year award from Tri-County School Principal Stephen Dion Wednesday at the school.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Daniel Davenport receives the Tri-County School Student of the Year award from Susan Tallon and Thomas Medlock during commencement Wednesday at the school.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Tri-County School Class of 2013 graduate Jimmy Hidalgo, right, hugs his teacher, Lamar Newsome, after Newsome named him as the high school's Student Citizen of the Year during commencement Thursday at the school. Earlier in the program, Newsome was named Teacher of the Year.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

At any high school graduation, it is common for speeches to include language about working hard and overcoming adversity.

But those are more than just words for the 11 members of the Tri-County School’s class of 2013 who graduated Wednesday. The Easthampton school, run by the Northeast Center for Youth and Families, is for students who have issues or special needs that prevent them from attending other schools.

Whether those issues stem from childhood trauma or family instability, the students are at high risk of dropping out and the fact that they are graduating from high school is an incredible feat, said Suzanne Welch, a grant writer for the center.

“These are the kids that no one thought could do it,” she said.

Instead, they’ve turned their lives around, Welch said. Four of this year’s graduates are going on to community college, two will attend trade schools, one is going to art school and others will start working.

A few of those who live at the center’s residences, including foster children or those who cannot live with their families, will go on to live in an assisted living or group home to “finalize their independent living skills,” Welch said.

The graduates are Danielle Benoit of Easthampton, Ashley Trombley of Northampton, Brianna Sotkewicz of Southampton, John Devino of Williamsburg, Crissy Fournier and Jimmy Hidalgo of Holyoke, Edibelto Ramos and William Lewis of Springfield, Daniel Davenport of Warren, Zachary McGovern of Ludlow, and Anthony Tate of Connecticut.

Welch said that when students come to the Tri-County School, many are stubborn and unwilling to learn or be a part of the community. But the students who graduated Wednesday have changed and grown; they’ve passed their required classes and the MCAS test.

“But they’re not just getting an education here, they’re getting the skills to live independently, they’re learning how to control their emotions and focus on schoolwork,” Welch said. “The staff here is incredible and they’re patient to get them past the hard parts.”

And those who attended Wednesday’s graduation included biological parents, foster parents, school staff as well as social workers from state agencies who have worked with the graduates over the years.

“They’re all proud they had some part of helping a child to land on their feet,” Welch said. “And their futures look good.”

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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