By Tom Tolen /

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting restrictions of the last four months, The Bridge Alternative High School in Brighton was able to pull off a full-fledged graduation ceremony Thursday evening.

Principal Colleen Deaven says they were able to accomplish it because the Bridge enrollment of around 100 is tiny compared to Brighton High School, with its approximately 2,100 students. The event took place at Sloan Field, located adjacent to the Brighton Education and Community Center, which is the home of The Bridge. Some 27 graduates were present, wearing cap and gown, with each graduate restricted to a maximum of two guests because of the state-mandated guidelines of no more than 100 people at an outdoor gathering.

Brighton School Superintendent Greg Gray told the graduating students that when they go out into the world to act according to their conscience and convictions, even when they must go against the majority in order to do so. In Gray’s words, “Your graduation is a testament to your self-respect; you have accomplished something of which you can be very proud.”

Some 34 students in all were in the graduating class, but seven were unable to attend for a variety of reasons. Benches were placed in the middle of the field, with X’s to mark the proper amount of social distancing, in line with the governor’s executive orders regarding COVID-19 regulations. Deaven and the school staff were seated on a platform with special guests that included Superintendent Gray, the three assistant superintendents and Director of Technology Chris Turner.

The Bridge has been named the top alternative high school in Michigan by the Michigan Alternative Education Organization twice in the last four years. The alternative school is designed to help students who have problems adjusting to the regular school setting and in succeeding, whether academically or socially.

Deaven says the teachers at The Bridge are trained in a variety of teaching methods because students learn through different approaches and educating kids isn’t a “one size fits all” process. Those who could not attend were able to watch the ceremony via Facebook livestream, which could also be accessed through the district’s website.

Photos (Credit - Colleen Deaven):

Top - Miranda Simchak. Recipient of the Michigan Alternative Education Organization scholarship for $1,000 and the Powers/Rogers Scholarship, also for $1,000.

Middle - Daniel Decoste- recipient of the Keith Masso scholarship, together with The Bridge Principal Colleen Deaven.

Bottom - Austin Derk and his mother, Saunya Derk, who was in Colleen Deaven’s adult ed class 18 years ago.