The audience may have been virtual for their LIT graduation, but these Beaumont ISD Early College High School (ECHS) students’ honors were very real and their extraordinary efforts, duly rewarded on June 3 when they crossed the high school stage during an in-person commencement ceremony. Social distancing remained in effect during the ceremony as well as other safeguards, as recommended by the state.
Present to witness the 40 students receiving their high school diplomas – besides friends and family – were LIT’s Executive VP/Provost Dr. Kerry Mix and Dean of Strategic and Workforce Initiatives Dr. Miranda Phillips. Thirty-one of the 40 graduates received LIT’s Associate degree, with 37 being able to participate in LIT’s commencement ceremony in December.
Dr. Phillips said, “This was the first cohort of ECHS graduates. Ninety-three percent of these high school graduates would have also walked in LIT’s commencement ceremony if we had held one (previously scheduled for May).” Phillips attributed the large number of graduates to a “really solid partnership between LIT and Beaumont ECHS with intentional practices that have led to student success.”
LIT President Dr. Lonnie L. Howard echoed her sentiments, maintaining his conviction in LIT’s partnership and the ECHS program – “especially given this spring’s high percentage of BISD ECHS graduates. We need inspirational stories now more than ever, and these students have never stopped being inspirational when it comes to claiming their share of the ‘American Dream,’” he said.
Zachary Essoh, one of the LIT graduates who earned an AAS, said physically crossing a stage to accept a diploma during this unprecedented time made this honor especially memorable for him.
“Graduation for many students is seen as a rite of passage to adulthood,” he said. “This graduation is a testament to the strength that the class of 2020 has in the face of uncertainty. As my school says, ‘COVID-19 can keep us inside, but it can't keep us down.’ The pandemic certainly could not keep us from graduating,” he added.
After graduation Essoh plans to attend Lamar University, majoring in Computer Science.