Students overcome barriers to reach graduation

For Blake Aswegan, it doesn’t get much better than a spoonful of ice cream and a kiss from his mother – except maybe what will happen on May 25.

Aswegan was honored with a party along with 18 other graduating seniors from the Marshalltown Learning Academy Friday and will get his diploma at the Marshalltown High School graduation May 25.

He was one of the students that completed his education at the alternative high school as the structure of a traditional high school didn’t suit him after trouble at home. MLA serves at-risk students who need to approach school work from a different way.

“I got to work at my own pace,” Aswegan said. “This is just a better fit for me.”

Aswegan was very vocal in his support of the MLA staff during the ceremony.

“They mean everything,” Aswegan said.

His mother, Stephanie Anderson, couldn’t hold back the tears at the party Friday.

“I’m so proud of him,” Anderson said. “This school has meant a lot to him.”

Marshalltown has had 153 students graduate through MLA in its six years of existence. Eric Goslinga, administrator at MLA, said many students overcome obstacles to get to this point.

“A lot of our kids have conquered a lot of barriers to get to graduate,” Goslinga said.

As part of the celebration, Goslinga brought in former MLA graduates who went on to get their associate’s degree at Marshalltown Community College.

“We wanted to send a message to them that this graduation from high school is an intermediate step,” Goslinga said.

Aswegan hopes to turn a troubled past into a bright future, starting with his high school diploma. He’s not yet sure where this step will take him after graduation.

“I don’t know what I’m going to be, but I’m going to be somebody,” he said.