The 20th Isles Youth Institute Commencement Ceremony took place on Tuesday, June 23, 2015, at 10:30 AM at The Hibernian Club in Hamilton Square, NJ. Commencement included an awards ceremony, speeches from founder and CEO Marty Johnson, students, and keynote speaker Reverend Darrell Armstrong. Families, teachers, friends, and other supporters attended.
The commencement ceremony represented a year’s worth of academic and job training for students at Isles Youth Institute (IYI), an alternative school that emphasizes leadership development and civic engagement for students who have dropped out of traditional high school. Students at IYI participate in afterschool activities and volunteer extensively in the community. Staff works with students to help them apply to college and pursue employment.
“You have to send yourself a message, that when the world sends you negative messages you have to counter those messages with positive messages,” said Reverend Armstrong, in his address to this year’s graduates. “When the world tells you no, you have to be able to tell yourself yes. When the world tells you that you can’t, you have to be able to tell yourself yes, I can. “
“Once you have earned your diploma, it is only the first step. I have already completed the first step. My next step will be college and hopefully beyond,” says Anibal Croux, a 2015 graduate.
This year’s graduates have a lot to look forward to. Members of the class of 2015 plan to continue their studies in college, attend nursing school and pursue careers in construction and the military.
“The same thing that has gotten you through this experience has to be the same sense of being that will get you through the next level of experience,” Reverend Armstrong encouraged the new graduates.
“Our students have worked hard, overcome seemingly unsurmountable obstacles and have proven to be resilient young people,” notes Stacy Felder, Director of Isles Youth Institute. “We wish them well as they continue on their path to success. Onward and upward!”