The Twilight School program at Kokomo High School is continuing to help returning and struggling students earn their high school diplomas.
Since opening in 2012, more than 500 students, ranging from ages 18 to 74, have earned Kokomo High School diplomas. In part two of a two-part series, three recent graduates shared their stories of how they struggled in high school but, through the Twilight School, made it to commencement.
After Adidas Mayfield’s mentor moved, the high school student stopped caring about his classes. His grades began to slip, and he fell further and further behind his peers.
Mike Susong, director of Twilight School, realized that Twilight School was the best pathway to help Mayfield graduate on time, so the Twilight director worked with Mayfield to develop a customized graduation plan.
“I liked having the flexibility to make my own schedule,” Mayfield said. “I don’t like getting up early, so it was great being able to work at night.”
Mayfield admitted that he wasn’t motivated when he first enrolled in the Twilight program, and he continued to ignore his work. After a few months, Twilight teacher Vanessa Marsh began working one-on-one with him and helped light a fire within him.
“I knew I had to take advantage of the help Miss Marsh was providing if I wanted to earn my high school diploma,” Mayfield said. “I then began to focus on my education.”
Mayfield finished his classes before graduation to achieve an important milestone; he became the first in his family to graduate from high school.
“I can’t describe the feeling of walking across the stage at Memorial Gym to accept my Koko-mo High School diploma,” he said. “I fulfilled my grandma’s dream for me. It felt so good to make everyone so proud.”
Mayfield realized he wouldn’t have made it to graduation day without the Twilight staff, especially Marsh.
“I owe all my thanks to Miss Marsh," he said. “At graduation, I gave her a big hug because I know that moment would not have been possible without her.”
KayLynn Shaffer considered Twilight teacher Vanessa Marsh to be her “school mom” – the person who guided her through her educational journey while helping her navigate life as well.
Shaffer made the decision to enroll in the Twilight program when life threw her a curveball. Her stepdad serves in the U.S. Army and received the news that he was being stationed at Fort Carson.
Shaffer wanted to stay in Kokomo to earn her high school diploma, so she moved in to take care of her grandpa while her parents moved to Colorado.
Choosing Twilight School was a decision Shaffer said she will never regret.
“Through Twilight School, I was able to take my time with my coursework, and because of that, I really discovered who I am as a person,” she said. “The Twilight program also taught me to love school.”
Shaffer appreciated the flexibility of the Twilight School, which allowed her to work from home on days when she really missed her family and was feeling sad. She attended Twilight classes as often as she could, though, because she enjoyed the support her teachers provided.
“I did better at math in my Twilight classes than I have at any other point in my life because Miss Marsh was right there to help me when I needed it,” Shaffer said. “The teachers in Twilight really care about you. I love having those one-on-one relationships.”
After completing her classes, Shaffer was excited to walk across the stage at Memorial Gym to accept her Kokomo High School diploma. Graduation was a day of celebration, especially since Shaffer's mom and stepdad were able to drive through the night to be there for her special day.
Shaffer currently works full-time at a factory, cares for her grandfather, and is enrolled in classes at Ivy Tech Community College. She hopes to become a physical therapist.
Skylor Sefton enrolled in the Twilight School when she realized that it might be the only way for her to graduate on time.
“I was struggling in school and wasn’t on track to graduate with the rest of my class,” Sefton said. “I loved the Twilight School; it is especially helpful for people, like me, who have trouble focusing or being at school on time.”
The flexibility of the Twilight program allowed Sefton to sleep later in the mornings, complete her school work in the early evening, and work at her job at night. She completed most of her courses on her own, but she attended Twilight classes every evening to take tests. Sefton earned her credits and graduated with her classmates in the KHS Class of 2019.
“When I walked across the stage at graduation, I was so relieved,” she said. “I couldn’t have done it without Mr. Susong and Miss Marsh; they helped me with everything. Now, I am about to start classes at Ivy Tech to earn a nursing degree.
Courses are available in the evenings from 3 to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 3 to 6 p.m. Friday. For more information on this program, or to enroll in the Twilight School, contact Director Mike Susong at 765-776-7123, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.