COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – It's an exciting time for the thousands of high school students across the Chattahoochee Valley preparing for graduation.
It can be a difficult journey especially for students who may have to deal with obstacles that take them off track. In Muscogee County, the Catapult Academy is a place where these kids can go to get the support they need to accomplish their goals.
"I'm trying to figure out if it's going to be like an over ecstatic moment or like a bittersweet like I don't want to leave but I do want to leave. I don't know but I feel like I'm gonna cry," said Teresa Cook, graduating from Catapult Academy.
Who could blame her if she cries, those tears of joy will be well deserved for 17-year-old Teresa Cook as she walks across the stage this week as a high school graduate. Getting here has been anything but easy.
"During the summer of 2016 I had a son and he had an enlarged heart and he passed and after that, I was like I have to do something big for him, I have to, his mom has to do something great," said Cook.
Losing her son was only part of Teresa's struggle, she's been taking care of herself for a long time. She lost her mom at the age of one, her father is incarcerated, her sister and aunts helped to raise her, but Teresa also works two jobs all while trying to deal with the loss of her child and going to school.
As Teresa entered her senior year at Spencer last fall she was behind and it was clear she was not going to be able to get all the hours she needed to finish in May, and that's when Spencer Graduation Coach Cassandra Hippolyte recommended Catapult Academy.
"What I love the most about Catapult is that they're willing to work with students based on their needs and that's why I felt this was the best place for her," said Hippolyte.
Teresa was able to continue to work her two jobs and the school worked with her.
"A lot of the time she would be so tired. She worked overnight at Waffle House and a lot of the time she would come into school without getting any sleep. You have to understand that she is dealing with real life issues and she trying. So the only thing we can do is support her," said Hippolyte.
Because of that support Teresa will march with Catapult Academy and Spencer High School as part of the Class of 2017, an accomplishment she believes would make her son and mom very proud.
"I've told everyone the story and how I want to be something and how I want to be better and the people in the community, my sister, teacher, Mr. King, and his staff, they all helped me and told me that you can do it. If I can do it anyone can do it because it took a lot for me to get here," said Cook.
Catapult Academy which offers second chances at diplomas for students ages 16 to 21, they have one of the highest graduation rates in Muscogee County.
As for Teresa, she wants to go on to college and maybe work in television or own a daycare. We certainly wish her and all the graduates success in the future.