A leap of faith for the 2006 G.E.D. graduates

Posted By | May 28, 2006 12:00 am

Kim Swindell Wood
Graduation ceremonies once again became the center of attention for several White County families Sunday as students of White County Adult Education program proudly accepted their hard-earned diplomas that will help open the doors of opportunity in their lives.
Students gathered in the cafetorium of White County Middle School in the maroon caps and gowns that reflect the same color as those worn by the graduating class of White County High School. Many held the hands of their small children prior to the ceremony. These same children were the ones whose tiny voices could be heard proudly shouting, “Hi, Mama,” as the G.E.D. graduating Class of 2006 crossed the stage.
All graduates were given the option of participating in the ceremony. Out of 87 students, 36 were present to officially accept their diplomas before a crowd of family and friends.
“This is one of the most rewarding ceremonies the [school] board sponsors each year,” said Donny Haley, director of White County schools. “This program is about adults who have wished to continue their education, and we realize in doing this the challenges were great, but the opportunities are going to be plentiful for you.
“Also, we are delighted that each of you has elected to focus on improving your lives and your families’ lives by improving your life through education. We know that to achieve these goals you must continue your education as you go through life.
“Today is also a wonderful way for the families and the community present here today to recognize and celebrate your choice to extend your education and the sacrifices that you have made. I challenge you to strive to achieve your future goals just as well as you have your past goals.
“Our adult education program started a few years ago with probably 30 or 40 students. Today, and through the years, we have graduated hundreds. We think by advancing this program we have helped to develop a healthier community, a healthier society, improved lives and developed a brighter future for our children.
“On behalf of the White County Board of Education, I congratulate each graduate for your success in achieving your educational goals.
“It is a great honor for me today to introduce the speakers. They are the graduates of this class. Each of these has volunteered for this program, and we certainly appreciate them doing that and be willing to speak to you today about some of their values and things they think are very important to their lives and their families.”
Four students volunteered to speak at the ceremony, which included Joy Ayres, Farron Miller, Amanda Young and San Juana Young.
“Statistics show that there are more than 917,000 dropouts in the United States today,” said Ayres. “More than six out of 10 of those dropouts had grades of C or above. I was one of those dropouts. Years ago, when I was in high school, things were not like they are today.”
Ayres talked about the comparison in cost of numerous items, including bread, milk and gasoline.
“You could get a good job without a high school diploma,” said Ayres. “It’s not that way today. Most employers won’t even look to you without a G.E.D. If you don’t have a diploma, please, I urge you to get one. Get your G.E.D. It’s worth it. The whole world will open up to you with a G.E.D.”
Miller talked about a promise he made more than three decades ago.
“Thirty-two years ago, I had to walk away from high school,” said Miller. “I made a promise to a lady that’s not with us – Mrs. [Sandra] Sparkman – that I would return, and today I have. All I can say is it’s up to each individual to set your goals and fulfill your goals. If you don’t do it, you can’t blame anyone but yourself.”
Miller congratulated his classmates.
“Why many of us dropped out is nothing that matters now,” said Amanda. “What matters now is that we have come back today. Whether you have done this to get a better job, military or whatever the reason, you should be thinking that you did something where you can be proud of yourself.”
A bubbly and vivacious San Juana addressed the audience.
“I feel so proud and so happy,” said San Juana. “I want to tell you this is a very important day for us.”
San Juana said she was proud to be a part of a country where she could achieve her goals because she was not able to continue her education in her native country.
“It’s never too late,” she said.
San Juana thanked the adult education teachers for their dedication, and closed by saying, “God bless you.”
Sue Savage, adult education instructor, recognized the Top Ten students: 1. Kristin Blaylock, 2. Sarah Randolph, 3. Joy Ayres, 4. Brittany Carroll, 5. Ellen Sims, 6. Russell Ewing, 7. Jarrid Shepherd, 8. Brian Schoenmann, 9. Timothy Sanders, 10. Tiffany Brymer.
“I would also like to add that to pass the G.E.D. test you have to have an average score of 450,” said Savage. “All of these students had an average of 530 or above. This will qualify any of them for the lottery scholarship fund in the State of Tennessee if they decide to enter post-secondary education.”
Savage also announced the students who received the highest scores in each subject. She said the average score was 600 in these categories.
• Language arts-reading (tie): Kristin Blaylock and Sarah Blaylock
• Language arts-writing: Jarrid Shepherd
• Mathematics: Kristin Blaylock
• Science: Kristin Blaylock
• Social Studies (three-way tie): Joy Ayres, Kristin Blaylock and Sarah Randolph
Savage said the overall G.E.D. test score for all 87 students was 507. The classes also had “diversity” in age with the average age of 27. Rachel Mabe was the oldest student.
Graduates were presented with several gifts as they walked across the stage in the first part of their journey into a new world.
“Today, each of you has proven that you have every characteristic of success by continuing your education and fulfilling your abilities to the fullest,” said Haley. “I challenge you to continue to support education, because education will provide you with all the necessary tools for each of you to be successful. Today, you can now look back with pride and know that you have given your best effort.”

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