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7 inspiring high school graduation stories that will turn you into the crying face emoji

Posted May 26

Micah McDade may have graduated with his high school peers, but his story was much more inspiring than the rest.

McDade, who’s struggled with cerebral palsy his entire life, walked for the first time on stage to accept his high school diploma.

According to the Okmulgee News Network, McDade spent the last few months working on his ability to walk, which is why his friends were all surprised when he was brought on stage in a wheelchair and stood up on his own to accept his diploma.

“With shock and surprise, his graduating class and the whole audience realized what he was about to attempt. Yes, Micah stepped out onto the stage. There was barely a dry eye in the audience as the crowds stood and cheered him on every step of the way,” according to ONN.

It’s estimated that close to 1 in 323 children have cerebral palsy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The disorder affects one's motor skills and makes it hard for them to maintain balance.

But through continuous efforts — and inspiration from his parents — McDade beat his disorder to accept his diploma.

McDade isn’t alone in his efforts to beat the odds to graduate from high school. In fact, more children than ever before are graduating from high school. According to the U.S. Department of Education, high school graduation rates hit 81 percent in the 2012-13 school year, and experts hope that number will reach 90 percent by the year 2020.

"When schools are held accountable and students are given support to help them stay in school and on track, real progress is possible," John Gomperts, president and CEO of America's Promise Alliance, told the Department of Education. "Because of increases over the past decade or so, nearly two million additional young people have high school diplomas, giving them a chance at a more promising future. However, much work remains. Looking forward, we will focus on what more can be done so that all young people have the foundation they need to succeed in school and life."

Indeed, even those who have had lifelong struggles, like McDade, have found a way to earn success from high school to accept their diplomas.

Here are seven inspiring teens who graduated from high school in 2016.

This girl walked and talked her way to graduation

Mackenzie Maher of Colorado Springs, Colorado, like McDade, has cerebral palsy, and was told by doctors long ago that she would never walk or talk.

But for her 2016 graduation, the Cheyenne Mountain High School graduate did both.

"The doctor told my mom that I would never walk and I would never talk. To be here today I have defied so many odds," Maher told KRDO.

Not only did she walk across the stage to accept her diploma, but she also spoke to her fellow graduates, sharing her own story as a way to inspire those in the audience.

"I knew I had to do something to thank them for everything they have done for me," she said. "I think being all you can be is getting up every day and doing the best that you can with the situation that you have."

Seven times a charm

The first group of septuplets to survive in their infancy just graduated from high school together. They don’t turn 18 until later this year, but have already accepted their diplomas from Carlisle High School.

Find out more about the siblings in this video from the Des Moines Register.

An early graduation for a good purpose

Graduation may still be some weeks away for students at Northside High School in Jacksonville, North Carolina. But that didn’t stop the school’s seniors from donning their caps and gowns early.

Last week, the seniors, dressed in their graduation day garbs, headed over to Bath and Northeast Elementary Schools, which house K-8 students, to inspire children to graduate from high school, according to WITN.

Senior Nicholas Garcia told WITN it was an inspiring chance to teach young children the value of graduation while also thanking the teachers who helped him succeed in school when he was younger.

"Doing stuff like this will push them to want to graduate, to want to do big things in life and to want to go to college and be successful, have a successful future," he told WITN.

This girl graduated from college and high school at the same time

Rachel Klammer’s final class in high school also earned her a college degree.

Though she graduated from high school a few weeks back, Klammer just has to finish one last class in school to give her a diploma from Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan, too, according to Michigan Live.

In fact, it’s in her blood to do so. Klammer’s sister, Sarah, also graduated with a high school diploma and college degree at the same time. Rachel started taking college classes when she was 14 through the Paris Academy of Co-Secondary Education, a dual enrollment program.

"It feels great that I'm done with undergrad," Rachel Klammer told Michigan Live. "It's kind of like I've just added four years to my life because all of my other friends are just starting college and I'm already starting my master's."

Oh, and get this — Rachel’s got no student debt.

"It's just incredible, the burden on families, first of all, and then the burden on students who have to worry about paying off all of that money before they could earn enough money to pay it back," Lynn Klammer, Rachel and Sarah’s mom, told Michigan Live. "I went to college and was able to pay for it working summer jobs. I didn't have any money when I finished school but I didn't have any debt."

This girl graduated college before high school, sort of

Graduation’s an exciting time for Alesha Diman, mostly because she’s looking ahead to college.

But her college experience will only be two short years. According to KCTV5, Diman graduated from Metropolitan Community College with an associate’s degree ahead of her graduation from William Chrisman High School. She’s now going to attend the University of Arkansas.

In fact, she’s one of 61 students in Missouri to accomplish such a feat, according to KCTV5.

A survivor succeeds

Emily Kubasiak of Ravenna, Michigan, didn’t think she’d make it to graduation after her siblings were killed in a car crash back in February.

The accident — caused as Kubasiak drove her two siblings on icy roads and collided with another car — left her injured. But through her family and community, Kubasiak willed herself forward to earn a degree, FOX-17 reported.

“Without the community I’m not sure exactly where we’d be," said her father, John Kubasiak, to FOX-17. "Anyone that’s gone through this, because I know we’re not the only people who’ve gone through something like this, if they don’t have a support like we had, it would’ve been devastating. The community has picked us up from day one and helped us heal. Even though we’re still never going to be completely the same, we’re well on our way and we’re looking forward to Emily going on and having a great future.”

Mother, daughter and diploma

Denise Allen and daughter Chrisetta both dropped out of high school for various reasons. Denise got pregnant at an early age, having four children by age 21. Chrisetta, meanwhile, ran “with the wrong crowd,” according to AL.com.

But Chrisetta wanted a change. No, seriously. She had dreams about graduating.

So the two decided to get their high school diplomas together — Denise at age 50 and Chrisetta at 31.

The two spent the last four months taking classes at Gunn Christian Academy, and will receive their diplomas this Wednesday at the graduation ceremony.

"I said if I didn't get it, I was working toward my mom getting it, but we helped each other," Chrisetta told al.com.

Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret Digital Media.

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