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For Wichita’s First Grad, A Long Journey — and Worth Every Mile

November 14, 2022 | Jeffrey Good

For Wichita’s First Grad, A Long Journey — and Worth Every Mile image

By any standard, Ricardo Burciaga had a long commute to school. Even as he pursued his high school diploma at Wichita Acceleration Academies, Ricardo also held down a full time construction job — three hours away in Kansas City.

By virtue of his hard work and the flexible, personalized help provided by the team of educators at WAA, Ricardo found success and became the new school’s first-ever graduate.

“I never thought I’d get this done,” Ricardo marvelled as family members and educators gathered to celebrate his achievement. “My diploma, you know!”

Ricardo realized his goal just shy of his 21st birthday. Looking back at his decision to drop out three years earlier, he said he has changed. “I’m not going to lie to you. Back then, I didn’t care about school. I didn’t care about nothing,” he said. “I feel like I became a better person.”

A variety of factors led him to drop out. His then-girlfriend got pregnant with their daughter, Victoria, and Ricardo felt the pressure to get a job and provide. Also, he felt little attachment to a school where he felt lost in the crowd.

“You’d ask a teacher for help but you’d have to wait” due to the large number of other students. He tried online school for a while, but found he had a hard time overcoming his tendency to procrastinate. And when he stumbled on the material, “You could never ask a teacher, ‘What does this mean?’ ”

As his 21st birthday approached, though, Ricardo decided that he needed a diploma to begin building the life he wants. He searched for a school that offered him the scheduling flexibility that would allow him to hold onto his job and study in his off-hours — while also offering the one-on-one support he needed to thrive.

He found that combination at WAA.

“Here, there is always somebody to help you,” he said. “Even if they aren’t your teacher, they help. They want you to succeed.”

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