Photos by Martha Asencio Rhine
Sarasota Acceleration Academies recently celebrated the graduating Class of ‘22, a group of young men and women who worked hard and pushed past adversity to claim their dream of a high school diploma. But for Acceleration Academies, many said, they, their families and friends would not have had this joyful day.
“Everyone here is super-nice and super-duper willing to help. You can just walk up to them and say ‘Hey I’m struggling with this,” says grad Franki Mobley-Tarpley, who is planning to go to college and build a career in the performing arts.
Another grad, Tyler Marcoaldi, had dropped out of a traditional high school during his senior year. He had a full-time job, was covering his own bills and thought he could do just fine. So he walked away. “I had already made my mind up I wasn’t getting a diploma.”
But then he heard about SAA, which provides a flexible schedule and personalized approach to students like Tyler, who could no longer fit a traditional school day into a schedule that included working full-time as a mechanic at Toyota. And now he’s a grad, celebrated by his family and by Curtis Hayes, the SAA graduation candidate advocate who told Tyler about Acceleration Academies in the first place.
“He’s always been mature, but in the last year, leaps and bounds,” says Curtis. “I know he always had it, but he’s shocked me with the young man he’s become.”
Here is a selection of photos from the big day by photojournalist Martha Asencio Rhine.