Airhorns sounded along with cheers from supporters in the Navarro College parking lot on May 21. As a trail of vehicles paraded, members of the 2020 Elevate Program gleamed with happiness as they were celebrated by family, job coaches, and teachers.

Once through the parade line, each Elevate graduate was handed a red gift bag that contained their official high school diploma and a Continuing Education Certificate of Completion. Eight students graduated this year and five of those are from Waxahachie ISD — Tristian Fagan, James Fox, Audrey, Damien Rose, and Raul Serrano.

The Elevate program was established 10 years ago and is a shared endeavor among Waxahachie, Midlothian, and Red Oak ISDs.

Dana Gentry, program teacher, works for Navarro College and explained that the program is an 18-plus program for students to learn job skills both in a classroom on a college campus and on job sites as they transition from high school to post-secondary jobs or education opportunities.

“This current group was stellar,” Gentry said. “Such smart, hardworking students with so much potential. They may not have always seemed eager to be in the classroom but they never, ever complained. I truly can't wait to see how life unfolds for them.”

Waxahachie ISD employees Tray Chant and Ashlee Caliendo serve as job coaches that support the students at their job sites.

"Those guys came to work every day with a positive attitude and ready to tackle whatever was thrown their way," Caliendo said. "There was never a time they were assigned a new task on the job that they didn't go above and beyond at completing. They consistently took initiative and completed jobs they had not even been asked to do."

Classes focus on the improvement of vocational-related reading and communication skills, basic computer skills, and development of employment and job search skills.

Upon completion of the Level I and Level II programs, a Continuing Education Certificate of Completion is awarded as well as the official high school diploma.

"This is WHY we do what we do. Our goal is always to provide the support and services needed so that our students can graduate and transition seamlessly into whatever their post-secondary goals are,“ said Waxahachie ISD Director of Special Populations Audrey Thomas. ”It was great to see everyone out to support this amazing group of young adults."