Oregon Youth Authority facilities recently honored 75 students who graduated as part of the Class of 2021.
Celebrations ranged from a graduation breakfast and ceremony at Oak Creek to a barbecue at Eastern Oregon to a traditional ceremony with a slideshow and cake at Tillamook.
It was a wonderful month celebrating all the graduates in the OYA facilities. We are very proud of them all!
Here is the breakdown by facility:
Eastern Oregon, Monroe High School: 6 high school diplomas
MacLaren, Lord High School: 16 high school diplomas, 5 GEDs, 3 barbering licenses, and 1 electrician license
Oak Creek, Three Lakes High School; and Young Women’s Transition Program, Riverside High School: 9 high school diplomas, 8 GEDs, 4 associate degrees from Linn-Benton Community College, 1 bachelor’s degree from Portland State University
Rogue Valley, New Bridge High School: 11 high school diplomas, 1 GED
Tillamook YCF and Camp Tillamook, Trask River High School: 9 high school diplomas, 2 GEDs
Camp Riverbend, Riverbend High School: 1 high school diploma, 1 GED
Oak Creek and YWTP: Three Lakes and Riverside High Schools
Graduation Speech by Three Lakes High School student: Calejza
“My fellow graduates of 2021, that’s not the only thing we are, right? We’re strong and we have done so much. We’ve been through so much. Look at yourself. Look around. We were told we were worthless. That we would end up dead or be criminals. I never expected to see this day. I never expected to live past 16, let alone graduate.
“How many people in this room were told they would never graduate? Because I know I was. How many were told that they were stupid? Worthless? A nobody? Look at yourselves. You guys are amazing and beautiful. You are strong and courageous. We made mistakes, but we did this. We proved them wrong. Despite what we were told, despite where we are, and despite what we did in the past; this is all that matters. I can accept my past. But we can also accept that we proved every doubting teacher, every bully, and even our own family wrong. We proved that we are not a mistake.
“I want to tell you a story. There was a girl around 13 or 14 years old. She sat in school just waiting for the next bell to ring. She went through the motions and she felt alone in an ocean of faces and noise. She waited until she got her chance to do something that made her feel like she was worth something; even if that something was not necessarily healthy or hurt her and others. She always got suspended and never went a whole day without getting sent to the office. She felt like she was drowning. She hated school but the one thing she hated more was herself. She had no belief. She wanted to die, and she hated school. She didn’t feel loved.
“I was that girl a long time ago. Sometimes you have to reach your lowest point to find a reason to rise to your highest. I am just one story and I am a graduate. I don’t look at that sad girl with pity but with hope. If I could say anything to her I would have told her she is worth so much more than she believes. I would have told her that one day it would all be worth it. I would have told her that it will get better. We are literally proof of getting better. We’re self-motivated. We were the ones broken and damaged and now whole. We are survivors. We are the future, and this is proof of it.”
MacLaren: Lord High School
Quotes from MacLaren Graduates:
“Before I got involved in the system, I had no direction in life, little to no friends, no hope of finishing high school, and no chance of getting a job. Now I have many options. I still don’t have many friends but I’m fine with it. I finished high school and I’m moving on to college. I want to become a famous rapper one day. I’m not proud of my incarceration, but I don’t think I’d have become the person I am today if I never got locked up. Which goes to show that positives can come out of negative situations. Think about this: who struggles more growing up, poor kids or rich kids? The poor kids, of course. Most of them battle drugs, gangs, family violence, and have to steal to get food, while the rich kids get everything handed to them. However, in the end, who gets more glory in graduating high school? Who gets more glory in turning their life around? Who gets more glory in working for and achieving success instead of having it handed to them? Being born rich don’t mean nothing. Being born poor means you get to challenge yourself and grow into what you wish to be. I’m not the first in my family to graduate but I know I will be the first to earn a real place in history eventually.” – Nick
“I want to say I appreciate a lot of the teachers that have helped me get to this point. I really never thought it was coming. To feel like I’m past this chapter in my life and moving on and becoming a real adult, I appreciate all the support I’ve gotten through this whole journey. It means a lot to me.” – Cainen
Tillamook YCF and Camp Tillamook: Trask River High School
Rogue Valley: New Bridge High School
Eastern Oregon: Monroe High School
Camp Riverbend: Riverbend High School
Camp Florence will be honoring their graduates at an event on Aug. 25.