Hope Academy hosted its traditional baccalaureate on the Wednesday before graduation. The ceremony allows graduating seniors to thank those who’ve helped them reach this milestone, as well as look back on their senior year.
“As graduates from Hope Academy, what you have accomplished has taken courage, commitment and a considerable support network,” Principal Linda Gagyi said. “Hope Academy is honored to have been a part of that network, and is proud of the progress that you have made and will continue to make.”
Guest speaker Woody Wethington shared that sentiment. He’s in recovery after an on-the-job accident resulted in numerous surgeries and an addiction to prescription pain pills. Wethington now considers that chapter of his life to be the best thing that ever happened to him.
“I hope in your recovery you’ve found that you’re not alone,” he said to Hope Academy’s Class of 2018. “We may have felt that way at one point, but you aren’t now and never will be again.”
Wethington learned that after his daughter died from an overdose last year. Rather than relapse, he let his support network embrace him.
“I did what they suggested to get through my grief. As a result, my faith and my recovery never buckled,” Wethington said.
In addition to sponsoring others and volunteering, he now works as a recovery coach.
“Everything happening in my life today wouldn’t be if not for recovery,” Wethington said. “Keep your recovery first and follow your dreams.”
Part of Hope Academy’s recovery curriculum for seniors is completing capstone projects. Brad Trolson, the school’s recovery coach, described them as a call to action.
“It is a path upon which each student can reclaim a sense of self-worth and reassert his or her identity through community partnerships and humanitarian service,” he said. “We find meaning and purpose in our lives when we build connections with others in our community, and we find dignity in getting outside of ourselves and serving others.”
This year’s seniors described working with organizations including Overdose Lifeline, Indiana University’s Occupational Therapy Department and the Joseph Maley Foundation. One senior attended recovery meetings for students at IUPUI and another shadowed his former counselor at Fairbanks.
After watching a slideshow of photos from the school year and each graduate presenting a rose to someone who’s helped them along the way, seniors also presented Trolson – who’s leaving Hope Academy at the end of this school year for a new job – with roses.