SLAA Grad Fedson Delcis Turns Turmoil to Triumph
September 27, 2023 | Jeffrey Good
When he was 14, Fedson Delcis got in serious trouble and ended up behind bars. While his peers enjoyed high school life — classes, homework, sports and socializing — in the years that followed, Fedson was trying to keep his head above water in the harsh environment of jail.
Recently, at 18, Fedson marked a major turning point in his life as he joined other members of the St. Lucie Acceleration Academies Class of 2023 to celebrate his high school diploma.
“People really opened my eyes,” Fedson says. “They wanted me to be on the right path, not go back to what I used to do. They wanted to see the best in me.”
Fedson found an inspiring supporter in Dr. Sunny Booker, Director of Alternative Education at St. Lucie Public Schools. The first stop Fedson made after emerging from jail was to see Dr. Booker — and she urged him to enroll at SLAA.
“Not only did Fedson get his diploma, but he graduated a year early,” she said, smiling warmly at her protegé. “I know what this student can do. I know what he has in him. He hasn’t had a lot of breaks. For him, Acceleration Academies was a big break.”
For most members of the SLAA Class of 2023, traditional high school had not been a good fit. The reasons included a need to work full-time to support themselves and their families, teen parenthood, homelessness and the need for more personalized support than a traditional school can provide — all hurdles SLAA helps them overcome with flexible scheduling, a personalized curriculum and ample one-on-one academic and personal coaching.
In Fedson’s case, there was also the ground he lost due to the bad choices he made years ago. While still in junior high, Fedson and a friend got involved in a fight with other youths that turned violent. Shots were fired. While nobody was hurt, he ended up incarcerated.
While in jail, Fedson worked hard in a program designed by Dr. Booker but wasn’t able to complete his education. For a time, he thought he might have to settle for a GED. But when he emerged in December 2022, Dr. Booker urged him to earn a real high school diploma at St. Lucie Acceleration Academies.
He enrolled with a serious credit deficit, but arrived early each day and showed educators that he was serious about learning.
“The drive in Fedson is just phenomenal,” says ESE coach Dave Caso. “You give him your all because he wanted it so badly.”
Like many graduation candidates, Fedson found math to be a challenge. But in a course focused on practical math skills — building a budget, managing expenses and learning about the stock market — taught by math coach Carson Senger, he hit his stride.
“You can come in here and do the bare minimum but he went above and beyond that,” Senger says of Fedson. “There wasn’t a single day that went by without him making progress.”
That hard work paid off as Fedson not only made up lost ground but roared ahead, says Dr. Booker. “Not only did Fedson get his diploma, but he graduated a year early.”
Fedson is good with his hands, and he plans to build on skills he began developing in jail and study to become a plumber. For the first time in years, he sees a future filled with freedom and promise.
Acceleration Academies played a big role in that, he says, by making him and other learners feel welcome regardless of the history they brought through the door.
“Coming to a place that’s nurturing, that’s safe, where everybody’s on his side, it’s been perfect,” Dr. Booker says. “He defied the odds.”