HANCEVILLE, Ala.--"This was a dream 39 years in the making," said one graduate at the 2006-2007 Wallace State GED commencement ceremony. Stories of students who dropped out of high school to go to work full time abound in Wallace State's Adult Education program. But on graduation day, education success stories took center stage.
More than 250 Wallace State adult education students earned the GED this year. A crowd of family, friends, and community representatives attended the reception and ceremony in the James C. Bailey Center Auditorium to recognize the accomplishments of the 75 who were present to receive their diplomas.
"We are so proud of these students who have shown tremendous dedication, courage and perseverance to achieve their dreams," said Wallace State Adult Education director Kelley Blackwood.
Students in adult education have left high school for a variety of reasons. Some are gifted students who suffered boredom with traditional classes. Others had trouble in school or were forced to leave for family or financial reasons. They range in age from teenagers to senior adults, and have been away from education from a matter of weeks to decades.
"We have a place for all individuals with all levels of academic preparation," said Blackwood. "And we encourage students to make earning the GED one step in a continuum of lifelong learning that will continue with college-level courses." In addition to free GED preparation classes, the program offers adult literacy and computer literacy classes, English as a Second Language classes, and job skills training.
Along with recognition of graduates at the commencement ceremony, a few special awards were given. Outstanding ESL students Julia Hernandez, Alejandra Contreras, Antonio Contreras, and Constantino Alcala were presented certificates of accomplishment for exemplary progress in English classes. Steven Voit was recognized for being the first in the Adult Education Program during 2007 to score at the Gold level on the WorkKeys exam.
Wallace State scholarships were awarded to George Stanton of Blount County, and Natasha Ponder of Cullman County, the individuals with the highest GED exam scores for the year.
A host of volunteers and community donations made the graduation events a tremendous success. "Caps and gowns, food for the reception, the special soloist, sound system, floral arrangements and greenery, lighting, and event planning were all a donations and part of a tremendous volunteer effort," said Blackwood.
The Adult Education calendar begins on July 1 and continues through June 30 each year.
Wallace State offers classes at 20 sites in Blount, Cullman, Morgan and Winston counties. This year, the program served 548 individuals, a 63 percent increase from 2005-2006.
"Our four county service area is thriving," said Blackwood. "We'll be adding additional classes to the 2007-2008 schedule to accommodate the increased demand from each county."
Progress in the Adult Education program is self-paced.