In a ceremony filled with touches that made it clear the graduates on the stage were loved, Payson Center for Success launched 17 students into the world at its graduation on May 25.

By the end, no one had a dry eye.

But doing things differently is exactly what PCS offers. When a student attends PCS, they have the choice to attend a high school unlike a traditional high school.

Students can move as quickly or slowly as they wish with an online curriculum that tailors itself to however the student wishes to move through the lessons.

Classes are small making the teacher-student ratio intimate.

Teachers know what the students need in order to achieve success and they are willing to do what it takes to help them reach their goals.

It’s that solid relationship the staff has with the students, which allows them to really know their students.

The graduation ceremony reflected the special nature of the PCS community through the speeches and a highly personalized video of each student.

Valedictorian Kaycee Simpson honored that close-knit community in her speech.

“We are all individuals,” she said. “We are all special.”

Simpson then proceeded to list off special characteristics of each of her classmates.

“Savannah always inspired me to be positive,” she said. “Sienna was always selfless inside and out … Freedom was a mom with two kids and a full-time job … Noah has his bravery, he will serve our country when he graduates.”

She said that although the students did not always have the strongest academics, PCS had taught them that a strong heart and perseverance will help them to go far.

“All of these people looking at you support us,” she said. “We have everyone in this building cheering us on … thank you PCS for all you do for us.”

Then came the video and tissues.

Each video used a different font for the message.

Each video had different music.

Each video had a unique backdrop.

Each video had pictures of the student from babyhood through childhood and to the present.

All of which served as a backdrop for the piece de la resistance — a personal message from the student’s family.

Many students came from a single parent family, but whomever wrote the remarks said positive, uplifting things about their student.

“So proud of you!”

“We love you.”

“You’re going to be successful at whatever you attempt.”

As the graduates walked across the stage to shake hands with lead teacher Linda Gibson and usually get a heartfelt hug, parents, family and friends cheered, while more tissues were passed around.

Contact the reporter at

contact the reporter at: mnelson@payson.com

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