There is no better example of the promise the New Year can bring than the mid-December ceremony for GED graduates of the Durango Adult Education Center.
On the evening of Dec. 19, eleven students whose traditional high school years were interrupted because of a variety of challenges moved the tassels on their mortar boards from left to right, having earned a high school equivalency diploma. Several went to the microphone to credit those who helped them along the way, and to share what they planned to do next.
They studied at night, travelled across state lines, moved quickly or more slowly through the instruction and faced learning challenges. One was the first graduate, at 62-years old, of the center’s new program in Cortez. Some graduates were emotional in thanking their families for support.
Another graduate is at the county jail. La Plata County Sheriff Sean Smith is a strong supporter of the program and makes it as easy as possible for education center staff to deliver classes there. Gretchen Wilson, who had a long career teaching in Durango School District 9-R, is one of the two instructors for jail inmates.
The graduation speaker, who a couple of years ago sat where the graduates were sitting and said so, is studying at Pueblo Community College on her way, she hopes, to a doctorate in psychology. Since leaving high school at 16, and beginning the GED program at 17, she said she’s learned personal responsibility, and thanked those “who believed in me.” She is a poised and articulate 19-year-old.
Among those in the audience were Durango School District 9-R Superintendent Dan Snowberger. Snowberger is known to recognize that students learn in different ways in different settings, and is a member of the center’s board of directors.
Durango City Council members Dean Brookie and Sweetie Marbury, and county treasurer Allison Aichele, are also among the directors. So is Durangoan John Anderson, who serves on Colorado’s Commission on Higher Education. Anderson knows what makes for a successful transition from the high school years to post-secondary educational accomplishments. It’s an experienced and talented board.
By the end of the ceremony, the mood in the room was that success for all in the coming year and years was certain.
For 2018, we can look forward to stronger connections to family and friends, rewarding employment, the completion of a 5K run or a mountain bike challenge, or the ascent of another one of Southwest Colorado’s spectacular mountain peaks.
But among the most rewarding is educational accomplishment, and there is none better than that first step, earned in the midst of sometimes difficult circumstances: a GED diploma.
Happy New Year.