SMEC ALC holds seventh commencement

May 25—On Thursday afternoon, 19 students from area schools came together to celebrate the annual Southeast Minnesota Education Consortium's ALC graduation ceremony.

Students graduating from the program came from Austin, Kingsland, Glenville-Emmons, Lyle, LeRoy-Ostrander, Southland and Grand Meadow and mark the seventh ceremony since the ALC was established in 2016.

This year's class not only received diplomas, but they were also lauded for how much of the facility's development they have taken part in.

Across the sprawling west side of the campus, this year's graduates helped build and develop the new greenhouse, barn area for animals, fence around the property, garden and much more.

"Those are just some of the highlights we've had," said ALC Department Lead and Teacher Kathy Piller in speaking to friends and relatives of the graduates. "We have had a lot going on over the years."

Piller said this class was able to get so much accomplished because of kids taking ownership of themselves and partly of the building itself. She added that many of these students have been here for about four years, lending to the level of maturity.

"We've had a lot of leadership in this class that we haven't had before," she said. "They've grown into young adults."

But what really has stood out is that there are students who have come back for a second chance. Piller said that some of the students had actually dropped out, but had come back to ultimately earn their diplomas.

"It gives them confidence to reach out for any dream they have," Piller said. "They can now capture the rest of their life goals."