Charter school honors grads |

Charter school honors grads

Teri Vance

Graduating from high school always seemed a lofty aspiration for LeShawn Parra. So when she got kicked out of Carson High School three years ago, it wasn’t much of a surprise, or disappointment.

The true surprise, she said, came Tuesday night when she crossed the stage to accept her diploma from Silver State Charter High School.

“I never thought I would,” she said. “Never did I think I would, but I pushed myself really hard to do it.”

The 20-year-old was among 57 seniors to graduate during the high school’s fifth commencement ceremony.

The charter school, which graduated eight students its first year, has about 476 students enrolled now.

“We’re constantly growing every year,” said Principal Steve Knight.

He said he’s proud of this year’s graduates and of their accomplishments. Five were eligible for the Millennium Scholarship. Cory Hershkowitz received an Elks Scholarship and Parker Stanfield and Tyler Parnell were recipients of the school’s in-house scholarships.

“We’ve got a really incredible group,” Knight said. “They know how to work independently and meet a deadline, and they know how to work together on group projects. They’re seeped in technology, which is what the school is all about.”

The students complete their courses online, but consult weekly with teachers and Fridays are reserved for labs and field trips.

“The whole design of the school is for individual attention,” Knight said. “It’s online so the teachers can spend time with the kids. I don’t want them doing clerical work.”

For Manuel Villareal, 18, the one-on-one time with teachers helped him turn around from a failing student as a freshman to now wanting to pursue a career in law enforcement.

“I was lucky I found out about this school,” he said. “I was wanting to drop out.”

Parra said the school provided an escape from all the “drama” that was holding her back.

“I get to focus more on my school,” she said. “I actually did my work and went to school every day to get help.”

And it paid off. After three years as a senior, she finally got her diploma.

“I’m really excited,” she said.