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CLASS OF 2024: Bryan ISD school gives students a second chance at a diploma

Mary Catherine Harris High School graduates 39 out of roughly 160 students, with a waitlist of 60-70 students.
Posted at 2:57 PM, Mar 08, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-08 16:46:01-05

BRYAN, Texas — Graduation at Mary Catherine Harris High School looks a bit different. It is a school geared towards helping struggling students complete the courses they need to get their diploma.

  • The school usually holds graduation ceremonies in March, May, August and December.
  • Thursday, 39 of the roughly 160 students graduated, making room for more of the 60-70 students currently on the waitlist.
  • M.C. Harris High School provides individualized teaching at each student's pace, allowing students to finish courses faster than they would in a traditional school setting.


"Those hugs are the most amazing hugs that you will ever see," Dr. Kaspar said.

Most kids wind up here just because something happened.

Graduation at Mary Catherine Harris High School is a bit different, and not just because they walk the stage in March.

“The beautiful thing about this job is I get to give hope — I have kids who come here and think they can't graduate," Dr. Kaspar said.

"They've been told a lot of them that they can't and we get to tell them no, you'll be able to graduate — this is how we're going to do it.

Dr. Karen Kaspar is the principal at M.C Harris High School, a high school geared towards helping struggling students complete the courses they need to get their diploma.

“We have some kids who, they've always made great grades, but then something happened — whether it is maybe a parent died, or maybe their parents moved away and now they're living on their own or they became a parent," Dr. Kaspar said.

"We have a lot of kids who are are also parents, and then traditional school just doesn't work as well anymore, and so we're here for that too.”

These can be students like Yahel Puentes, who says he's not sure he would've made it here in a traditional school setting.

"I was doing my own thing over there and I would get in trouble and I wasn't getting the most attention there," Puentes said.

"But at M.C. — everybody kind of knew me and they kind of helped me and they know my situation, so it's really helpful.”

Puentes started at Rudder High School, where he was suspended twice, spending a year at a Disciplinary Alternative Educational Program (DAEP).

Now, he was able to finish all his required courses in just a few months.

“He has worked so hard. At lunch, he would stand over here with his computer open and work during lunch on his courses.," Dr. Kaspar said.

Now, diploma in hand, he's planning for the future.

“Right now I'm an apprentice for an electricity company — so I'm putting in my hours to get my license," Puentes said.