Cortez man completes high school education at 62

Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017 7:55 PM
Ed Lettman, a 62-year-old Cortez resident, hugs Durango Adult Education Center Program Resource Coordinator Al Huckins after he received his high school equivalency credentials during the Dec. 19 graduation ceremony at Durango Public Library.
Left to right, Cortez-based teachers Gretchen Allen and Colleen Brennan and program resource coordinator Al Huckins, stand with 62-year-old Ed Lettman, who graduated from the Durango Adult Education Center high-school equivalency program Dec. 19 at Durango Public Library.
Ed Lettman, a 62-year-old Cortez resident, says a few words at the podium during the Dec. 19 high school equivalency graduation ceremony at Durango Public Library.

Durango Adult Education Center held its high school equivalency program graduation ceremony Dec. 19 at Durango Public Library, and 62-year-old Cortez resident Ed Lettman, after waiting 44 years, was finally able to walk across the stage to complete his high school education.

In August, Durango Adult Education Center expanded its high school equivalency and English as a second language programs to Cortez, as a response to requests and thanks to a three-year grant supplied by the State of Colorado Adult Education Literacy Act. Lettman, after he completed course work and passed a High School Equivalency Test, was among the first to graduate from the Cortez site.

As an impulsive teen, Lettman was two weeks away from a high school diploma when he was abruptly expelled. He managed to support himself without the school credential but, like millions of baby boomers, found that the modern work environment was a challenge to navigate. Though, even with limited career options, Lettman adapted.

“In the past, I never had trouble getting a job ... Always required work or experience,” Lettman said. “I never needed the diploma, but in today’s world, it is very important.”

Lettman survived a nearly fatal head injury 30 years ago and has dealt with chronic pain and surgeries since. At first, he had doubts about entering the modern classroom, but he was successful thanks to his instructors at the Center’s Cortez site.

“Those ladies made me really stir my gray matter,” he said. The courses, Lettman said, improved his skills in most subjects from a 10th-grade level to college-ready.

According to U.S. Census data of Montezuma County, one in four adults lack a high school education or is below average in English-speaking competency, which is more than a 25 percent of the nation’s population.

However, it’s never too late to revisit or continue an education, and Ed Lettman is living proof.

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