Taryn Blackburn addresses her fellow graduates at Cheyenne’s Triumph High School’s graduation ceremony at Storey Gym on Thursday, May 30, 2019. Gary Gwin/For the Wyoming Tribune Eagle

CHEYENNE – Thirty-seven students hailing from Arizona, Colorado, Ohio, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming as well as Mexico came together to receive diplomas from Cheyenne’s Triumph High during a commencement exercise Thursday.

It was the 42nd graduation ceremony for the state’s first alternative high school, Principal Mike Helenbolt said.

“These students have overcome inertia and persisted since kindergarten to finish this important achievement,” Helenbolt said. “Our job today is to celebrate and acknowledge the work that has been well done.”

Marguerite Herman, chairperson of the Laramie County School District 1 Board of Trustees, told graduates she had two requests.

“Never stop learning,” Herman said. “And please do that thing that we call ‘civics.’ Keep learning and taking a fresh look at people, places and things. Please get involved with government. First and foremost, get registered and, when the time comes, be informed and vote.”

Graduate Taryn Blackburn said students started the race toward graduation at different times, but ended up at the finish line together.

“A few ran into some speed bumps or were completely off the track,” Blackburn said. “There were times where we slipped and thought we weren’t going to make it, and other times the track was so clear, we could hear everyone cheering for us at the finish line.”

She summed up her talk with three words: “We did it.”

Graduate Daniel Bannister, who plans to become an officer in the U.S. Air Force as well as earn a degree in electrical engineering, said graduates overcame struggles as well as endured the alternative school stereotypes of being “delinquents” or “potheads” to get to the moment of commencement.

“For all the work you’ve done, you kept up going strong,” Bannister said. “When you needed help with a math problem, you didn’t just throw your pencil down and call it quits. No. You got through it the best that you could.”

Prior to the seniors receiving their diplomas, Helenbolt announced that Bannister earned a 3.1 grade-point average, the highest of the Class of 2019.

“Our kids – many of them come to Triumph with a history of not doing well in school,” Helenbolt said. “And they turned it around, but it’s hard to turn it around with a lot of troubled years in education.”

The seniors processed into Storey Gymnasium to the traditional Trio section of Edward Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1,” and recessed as graduates to the classic 1972 song by Alice Cooper “School’s Out.”

Steve Knight is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s local government reporter. He can be reached at 307-633-3182 or sknight@wyomingnews.com.

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