Burket Educational Center graduates its biggest class

Pictured are some of the 32 students that graduated from Burket Educational Center Thursday, along with some staff. Photo by Jackie Gorski, Times-Union.

Burket Educational Center, 5095 S. CR 700W, Burket, is able to give Tippecanoe Valley students an option outside the traditional classroom.

On Thursday, the biggest class the Center has ever had graduated.

“The Burket Educational Center is here to help students achieve graduation who struggled in the traditional high school setting. Typically, we have four main types of students who attend here: students who are here because they are behind on credits, students who are here due to discipline problems, students who maybe live on their own and have to support themselves and also students who have their own children and to work an adjusted schedule,” said Micah Lukens, Burket Educational Center teacher.

The goal of the Center is get students to graduate, but  to be successful in life as well, Lukens said. That can take on a lot of different meanings, but “we want them to have a clear a vision of what they want to do afterward.”

Students use APEX to do their work, attending half days or full days, depending on their schedule.

“All of our students here are designed to start off with a Core 40 graduate. We do have some that end up general diploma graduates. We’re considered a classroom of the high school, so all the students here have a Tippecanoe Valley diploma,” Luken said.

The Core 40 diploma has been required for high school graduation in Indiana since 2007. To graduate with less than Core 40, a student must complete a formal opt-out process involving parental consent. The Core 40 diploma is designed to prepare students for many college programs and careers, according to learnmoreindiana.org.

Thursday, 32 students graduated from Burket Educational Center, which Lukens said is the biggest class the Center has had. A typical year has between 15 and 20 students. One reason for the extra students this year was the COVID-19 pandemic put a lot of students behind and made education difficult, Lukens said.

The program began in fall 2003. To date, 331 students have graduated, according to the Burket Educational Center’s website.

During the graduation ceremony Thursday, Lukens said the students worked “very hard to get where they are today.” There were obstacles and challenges in their way, he said. Whether the students had tough situations due to circumstances in their control or not, they did what was important, and that was graduating, he said.

Joel Grindle, assistant principal at Tippecanoe Valley High School and program director at Burket Educational Center, said during the graduation commencement, this year has been historic due to all the things that have gone along with schooling.

This year, students were able to virtually attend Burket and Grindle said this is the first year the Center graduated its first virtual class.

It is the largest graduating class in the center’s history, which he said is a testament to what the students were able to do, Grindle said.

Grecia Bravo was one of the students that graduated Thursday. She has been a student at Burket since December. She said it allows her the opportunity to take care of her daughter and remain in school.

Bravo said she did most of her coursework on the weekend, when her schedule allowed her time.

She said after graduation, she will continue to work and go to college.

Taylor Threlkel had been a student at Burket since her freshman year. She said she didn’t do well at a traditional high school and needed to work at her own pace, as well as her having an issue with authority and didn’t get much done.

Threlkel said working at her own pace at Burket was probably the only way she would have graduated. She said it was really nice to work at her own pace. She noted Lukens was a really good teacher.

She said, sometimes, it takes a few days to complete some tasks, while it might take a few hours to complete others.

Graduating with a general diploma, Threlkel said she will look for a high-paying job so she could afford her own place. She’s not sure what field she wants to get a job in yet.

When asked if she has any college plans, she said she doesn’t think she’ll go to college. If anything, she could go to a trade school for cosmetology.

“I still have to figure that out somewhat,” Threlkel said.

Threlkel said she would recommend Burket to anyone who has trouble keeping up in school.