MEET THE GRADUATES — Above, students from Simon Youth Academy, an IPS alternative program, graduated inside the Indianapolis Artsgarden at Circle Centre Mall. Below, three graduates received scholarships from Simon Youth Foundation.


Nearly 30 students graduated from the IPS alternative program on Sunday, June 9



There was lots of nervousness and excitement inside Simon Youth Academy (SYA) on Sunday, June 9, as students prepared to graduate from the IPS alternative program housed inside Circle Centre Mall.


The nearly 30 seniors helped each other with their caps and gowns — assisted by SYA teachers and staff — while others rung their hands together or sat in deep thought before taking the escalator trip down to the Indianapolis Artsgarden, where the ceremony is held each year.


Friends and family, along with IPS administrators, Board commissioners and members of the Simon Youth Foundation, filled the glass-enclosed room to celebrate the 2019 graduating class.


It was a display of support that many of these students may not have always felt throughout their journey.


“I look at all they’ve done and how far they’ve come — from remembering the first time I met them until now,” said SYA Principal Robert Moses. “The work that they’ve done is remarkable given their backgrounds and some of the challenges they’ve had.”


One of several IPS alternative programs, students who attend Simon Youth Academy have overcome a variety of obstacles on their road to achieving their high school diploma. While their paths might have been different, what they all have in common is the drive to succeed.


All will either attend college, enter into the military or immediately go into the workforce upon graduation. Several also received some much-needed financial assistance.


SYA Counselor Lon Amstutz said the 2019 graduating class received a total of $118,000 in scholarship money, including $72,000 from the Simon Youth Foundation (SYF).


SYF President J. Michael Durnil presented $32,000 scholarship checks to bother Whitney Carpenter and Hector Hinojosa, and $8,000 to Tania Gutierrez-Munoz.


Hector is also a 2019 IPS Honors student, graduating Summa Cum Laude with a 3.67 GPA. He said receiving high academic honors and the scholarship money from Simon Youth Foundation just adds to the success he’s planning in his next journey, which includes studying at the University of St. Francis in Fort Wayne, Ind., to become a physician’s assistant


“It shows my parents that their kid is doing well,” said Hector.


Whitney, who gave remarks during the ceremony, said that while the journey was tough, she credits Simon Youth Academy and its staff for helping her excel. Receiving such a generous scholarship from Simon Youth Foundation was a complete surprise.


“I wasn’t expecting it all, I’m just so excited,” said Whitney. She will attend IUPUI in the fall to study biology. Her ultimate goal is to become an obstetrician and gynecologist.


Congratulations to the 2019 graduates of Simon Youth Academy!