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Danbury’s ACE Graduates Express Deep Gratitude, Optimism

Proud graduates of ACE, an alternative high school in Danbury, receive their diplomas Tuesday. Photo Credit: Danbury Public Schools/Facebook
A graduate of ACE talks about the love and support she received at the alternative high school in Danbury. Photo Credit: Danbury Public Schools/Facebook
ACE grads are all smiles Tuesday at graduation exercises. Photo Credit: Danbury Public Schools/Facebook
One of the 300 teachers, family and friends of the 23 ACE grads looks on during commencement exercises Tuesday. Photo Credit: Danbury Public Schools

DANBURY, Conn. -- These Danbury grads have faced many obstacles along the way, but their experiences at the Alternative Center for Excellence was not one of them.

Many of the 23 students who got their diplomas Tuesday said they found the school to be a nurturing place where they found guidance and acceptance.

One of those, Aaron Ortiz, said he found coming to ACE to be challenging because he was shy. After failing to show up on the first day, he got a knock on his door from teacher Glenda Armstrong.

Ortiz admitted that he didn’t like her back then, but they later formed a bond due to her constant support.

“You are family,” he told Armstrong in front of a crowd of 300 parents, families and friends.

Graduate Ky’Jana Grant said life circumstances made school an uphill battle, but that she felt special at ACE on her very first day.

“Every teacher makes you feel like you are making progress with your life,” Grant said at the ceremony at Western Connecticut State University.

Danbury schools Superintendent Sal Pascarella said it was clear that the students and school staff have become a family.

Graduates were also looking forward to the opportunities ahead.

“This school has given me an opportunity to take advantage of the resources and to pay it back as well,” said Shanisha Watson-Danzy, who received an award for leadership.

Jazmin Valverde thanked teacher John Webbe for encouraging her to fight for what she wants.

Valverde, who became a certified nurse's aide and made honor roll, received the ACE of Spades award for her hard work.

Jeffry Lapaix said he had thought that coming to the school was an easy way out, but he was wrong.

“Patience is the key of success,” he said. “They told me to wake up in life -- and I finally did.”

“By being here tonight you are saying ‘I can do anything,’” Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton told grads. “There are no more obstacles, no more barriers. You have proven you can do anything.”

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