The Mason City Alternative School held commencement Thursday for its 2021 graduating class, and a tone of thankfulness was present throughout the ceremony.
MCAS, or "The Alty," as it's referred to by staff and students, is a high school program within the Mason City Community School District which provides a smaller, alternative learning environment to help students who've fallen behind catch up on required credits while fostering an atmosphere of lower stress than some may find at the high school.
Nearly 50 students made their way to the stage to receive their diplomas, with some receiving scholarships and awards for merit and academic work as well.
Seniors Paige Nelson and Jade Green spoke at the ceremony, both expressing their sentiments to staff and fellow students.
"Without the staff working their hardest during our time here, none of these graduates would be standing here today," Nelson said. "With their endless amounts of effort and dedication to all of the students, the Alternative School became a good place for us to feel secure."
"For the last four years Katie (Fistler, principal) has told us time after time again, 'Not only will you leave here with your diploma in one hand, but a set of tools for your toolbox in the other,'" Green said. "Tools like communication, self-motivation, and the ability to advocate for yourself."
"With these tools, (we) are ready for what ever comes our way," Green said. "With these tools, show your mentors, your parents, your teachers that we aren't done."