Graduates of the fourth high school in the CNMI Public School System are overjoyed as their tassel went from right to left.
The 10 graduates of Da’ok Academy High School, which uses the alternative education program, or AEP, are ready to face a new set of challenges as they went through their commencement exercises yesterday.
Felisa Brel, AEP director, said the AEP program helps high school students secure their high school diploma. The AEP acts as a last resort for students who lack credits, are constantly absent, or on the verge of expulsion.
“Before their schools kick them out and they never get back into the system because of their age, attendance, and their academic performance, they send them to Da’ok Academy and here, we try to save them and work with them to improve those three areas,” Brel said.
The 10 that graduated yesterday comprise the sixth batch to have graduated from the program.
Most students in this program graduate earlier because, according to Brel, “most students only need one to three classes to graduate.”
Since being established back in 2011, Brel shared that Da’ok has had over 90 graduates.
“The largest number of graduates we’ve had [in a class] is 15,” she said.
Da’ok Academy student Rolly C. Roppul told Saipan Tribune he got into the program “because of my delinquencies. … I was sent here to Da’ok.”
Roppul did not resent his principal for her decision to send him to Da’ok Academy, saying he was happy and really liked studying in Da’ok.
“I gained a lot of values here. I learned a lot more in terms of education,” he said.
Roppul said he is planning to pursue a criminal justice degree.
Board of education vice chair Janice A. Tenorio congratulated the students for pursuing their diploma and told them to “do it because [you] could make it all the way.”
Education Commissioner Cynthia Deleon Guerrero said: “[The students] made the choice to return and pursue their diplomas. That is what’s really important because many of our students, like all of us, have challenges in life that nobody really knows about. [These students] took it one step further to get that diploma and I am really proud of them for that.”
Besides Da’ok Academy, the other high schools in the CNMI are Saipan Southern, Kagman High, and Marianas High.