ACE Class of 2021

ACE Class of 2021: an unprecedented example of success
Posted on 06/14/2021

As Alternative Center for Excellence’s principal John Webber addressed the Class of 2021’s graduates on Tuesday, his message was clear: despite the state of the world and their own personal struggles, they had proven to themselves that they were capable of facing challenges, making adjustments and accomplishing goals.

“You successfully traversed the most difficult of learning environments,” Webber told the graduates at commencement exercises held in the Broadview Middle School auditorium. He said he will always remember them as the Covid-19 class who set an unprecedented example of success in the face of social unrest and financial uncertainties. And graduates said they will remember Webber most for showing up in his white van and knocking on their front doors – one of many attempts to help students stay connected to during distance learning. (Webber made 450 home visits this past school year.)

The 10 graduates from Danbury’s alternative high school Class of 2021 are: Ayesha Akhter, Brian Galarza, Rachel Jackson, Chris Johnston, Faith Luckner, Kim Macancela, Nate McLean, Raimir Rivera, Aleeya Ruiz and Carter Stroh. 

Guidance teacher Anthony Hellman described ACE as a place where people help lift students up so that they can do their very best. He said there was no better example than a former student asking him at the start of the school year to find a place at ACE for student Aleeya Ruiz. It was that exchange that changed Aleeya’s life and solidified Hellman’s testament.

“This is one of the rare senses of a true community,” Hellmann said. “ACE defines what community really, really is.”

Webber’s sentiment was also echoed by ACE guidance teacher Kyle Trocolla who commended graduate Kim Macancela for making hard changes and focusing on her goal of completing her high school education.

“That’s what we want students to do: find a way to make the changes they need to make. I’m so proud of her graduating in the hardest possible way,” Trocolla said.

Like many of the ACE graduates and guidance teachers, Kim fought back tears as she spoke about the difference ACE made in her life.

“I’ve never seen this kind of support at any school,” she said.