Hillsides Education Center (HEC), a therapeutic residential and non-public school in Pasadena, graduated 10 seniors. In an emotional ceremony on May 31, the students told of the many challenges they overcame to meet this milestone. The students spoke of the hardships they had encountered on the road to graduation, including deaths of family members and mental health issues. They thanked their family, friends, and the HEC staff for helping them heal enough to focus on their studies and graduate.
Perhaps one young woman summed up the healing experience of HEC best when she said, “Hillsides helped me spread my wings. … Thank you for helping me become someone pretty great.”
During the ceremony, Hillsides President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph M. Costa praised the students saying, “We all get to a point along our journeys where we reach a corner and have to make a decision. The direction you took has led you to this moment. You made a good decision and the fact that you are here today is a sign you will continue to do so along your journey.”
Nancy Stone, President of the volunteer group Las Candelas that functions as HEC’s PTA, presented each student with a $200 gift card from Target as a graduation gift from the group.
HEC, which offers individualized education for students experiencing social-emotional, learning, and/or behavioral challenges, is one of the five core programs of Hillsides, a Southern California foster care and mental health charity. To learn more about HEC, visit www.hillsides.org.