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Grads with Grit

Family and friends pushed her to excel, grad says

To some, using a wheelchair might mean marching band was out, but not for Sarah Abma...

If you give a kid a 3D printer he will want to be a NASA engineer

Graduate Bryan Rosello Lizardo overcame challenges and struggles, and is headed to the University of Michigan...

Toughing it out through troubled times, she sets her sights on college

Before coming to the district, Ivy and her two brothers -- one older, one younger -- had lived in 16 different homes and been in and out of a half-dozen schools as a result...

From homelessness to supporting himself, he’s ready for college

Technically homeless, Tristen Foley worked and studied around the clock to get his diploma...

Determined grad finds her way from life-altering earthquake to success

Coming to U.S. from Haiti just two years ago, Roodflore Winkels has accomplished much and is reaching for new heights...

Coming from struggle, Somali student wants to ‘change someone’s life’

A Forest Hills Northern High School graduate born in war-torn Somalia plans to leverage the opportunities he has been given in this country to help children and families adjust to the U.S. and its culture...

‘You can’t rely on other people to build you up’

Shane Brewer admits he once did “the bare minimum” in school. “I just scraped along. It’s not that I’m not smart. I just didn’t see the point.” Until he did...

Undaunted by Disease, Staying the Course

Standing in a hall of Sparta High School, Steven Sevarns wore a smile that might suggest he wasn't headed to class that day. He...

A ‘Battler’ who Wouldn’t Settle for Less

Brittney Schnicke's first thought as she stared at her limp, badly damaged fingers was not whether she would be able to keep them, or...

Shooting for the Top

Donnie Alford owns his past with a perspective on where he comes from, where he is today and why it all matters that seems...

Diploma: ‘I Feel Like it Changed My Life’

Tyler Zahnke sat down at his musical instrument – aka, his Toshiba laptop  – and proceeded to open a wonder-box of sounds. He called...

Drawing a Path to Her Future

Katie Bork's drawings explode with imagination. Scenes in black ink reveal a world right out of her brain. Faceless people go about their daily...

Unbreakable Spirit

A recent district grad who's lived his life with serious health problems is on his way to Harvard, an accomplishment that surprised even him.Justin...

‘A Better Life, a Safe Life, a Good Future’

In a swirling sea of students in red and white caps and gowns who were hugging family members and being photographed, Abdulhadi Aljazaeri stood...

Future Takes Flight: ‘I Will Do Whatever It Takes’

Nolte Cunningham’s first experience on a plane was really bad. He was about 6 years old, on a flight taking his sister to the...

Determination over Depression: Future Trooper Found New Home and Career Calling

Editor’s note: This is the last of our “Grads with Grit” series about students who have overcome unusual challenges and hardships to graduate this...
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