Celebrating graduates in foster care and the juvenile justice system

July 25, 2019

“You can – and you will – change the world.” That’s the message Will Elwood, a foster care alum and guest speaker at the 21st Annual Celebration of Educational Excellence, shared with nearly 100 students in foster care or the juvenile justice system who recently graduated from high school or received a GED or other degree.

The Celebration of Educational Excellence is an annual tradition during which the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS), county staff and leaders, and nonprofit organizations applaud graduates for their accomplishments and hard work.

The evening honored 92 graduates, of which: 

  • 72 received a high school diploma this year
  • 14 received a GED
  • Four received a career or technical certificate
  • One received an associate degree

The Beauty and the Beats drumline led graduates into the ceremony. PJ Sykes, a spoken word artist, rapper and foster care alum, also spoke. PJ, aka Prince Lit, shared his story and performed an original song he wrote for the event.

Unlike a traditional graduation ceremony, a DJ and emcee kept the crowd energized throughout the event, handing out gift cards and holding a singing and dancing competition. After walking across the stage to be recognized, each graduate received a tablet to help them continue to achieve success as they pursue their educational and career goals.

Prior to the celebration, young people had the opportunity to meet with representatives from various organizations from throughout the state during a resource fair. 

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