Pettigrew Academy celebrated it fifth year of operation with its first graduation ceremony for academy eighth-graders.

A small private ceremony was held at the Wyatt mansion to celebrate the accomplishments of the three students.

“I have absolutely the greatest job on earth because every day I get to see people come in and improve themselves,” academy owner Kim Bauman said. “I get laughs and I hear great stories and half of those I believe. I get to go outside every day and I have the best kids to teach in Ellis County.

“We pick out one or two areas that they can improve on when they come to us and we work on that. The point is to learn and grow and not to be at a high level and stay there. It is progression and that is something we honor each year with our students,” she said.

Before the graduates were recognized, other students’ achievements were highlighted before an audience of parents and family members. Students were recognized for their strides to improve themselves academically in such courses as algebra, art, Latin and science.

Awards also were given out for character-building achievements such as taking initiative to improve situations, outstanding conduct and leadership.

“This is a milestone in their lives where they will do harder work, be challenged more and have more responsibility for their actions. Isn’t that a tough thing to do as an adult much less a student?” Bauman said.

The first graduating class of eighth-graders included Emma Bauman, Ja’Marcus Byrd and Nikki Pate. Each student stepped forward and received a certificate of completion.

Emma will continue her studies at Waxahachie Global High School next fall and hopes to attend Southern Methodist University after completing high school. Pate plans to stay at Pettigrew in the home school program for high school and later learn cosmetology. Byrd also will stay at Pettigrew for the home school program and hopes to become a doctor.

Sarah Trausch and Thomas Trausch, who were a part of the eighth-grader home school program, also were recognized for their completion during the ceremony.

Giving the final remarks to the graduates was Pettigrew’s Latin teacher, Jennifer McNabb, who told the students that it is important to keep their sense of humor when matters get tough.

“The other thing I wanted to talk to you is about the value of making mistakes. It is really important to make mistakes because there is a scientific basis to this,” she said. “It turns out when you learn something right the first time it stored in one part of the memory.

“When you make a mistake and learn from it, it is stored in a different part of the memory and that knowledge actually lasts much longer,” she said. “There is a huge value in making mistakes – so don’t be afraid to learn something new.”

E-mail Andrew at andrew.branca@wninews.com