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The Fort Wayne Community Schools Adult and Continuing Education Department celebrated the success of more than 165 graduates at its Commencement Ceremony at 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 2, at North Side High School. Prior to the Commencement Ceremony the Literacy Alliance hosted a reception from 6-6:45 p.m. at North Side.

From Jan. 1 – Dec. 31, 2015, more than 165 students passed the High School Equivalency (HSE) Exam. The HSE diploma replaced the GED (General Educational Development) certificate as a change in testing took place nationwide in 2014. Instead of just one national test, states were allowed to choose tests that are more closely aligned with a state’s academic standards. The test chosen by Indiana, the Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC) is closely aligned to College and Career Readiness Standards for Adult Education.

During Wednesday’s celebration, the stories of four graduating students were shared. The Continuing Education Program serves adult students of all ages, many of whom have endured educational and personal struggles on their road to graduation.

­­-Jacob Bowden was facing a lot of difficult decisions when he left home at 17 and moved into a group home. He found a flicker of hope by enrolling in HSE classes at the FWCS Career Academy at Anthis and felt that he was privileged to have this second chance at graduating. Teachers in the Continuing Education Program helped him connect with the Be SomeOne Now program, a joint program of SCAN, Inc. and Northeast Indiana Works, which is part of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. The program provided him with a mentor, who he credits along with the Continuing Education teachers for providing the guidance, inspiration and financial help he needed to become a graduate. Jacob will continue to seek their support as he moves into postsecondary education and job training. His message to others is to get started on achieving your goals today so that you can make your dreams a reality and tomorrow a better day.

-Katherine Burget dropped out of high school when she got pregnant and had years of dead-end jobs because she didn’t have the skills to get better paying jobs. When she became seriously ill, she had to quit working altogether.  Although her children were grown, she started raising her grandchildren. When she attended the graduation ceremonies of two of her grandchildren, she started thinking about pursuing her own diploma. Her grandchildren weren’t sure she could do it, and at times neither was she, but she earned her diploma and couldn’t be more excited.  She now would like to go on to college.

-Josefina Salamanca came to the United States from Mexico determined to improve her education and create a better life for herself and her family. She worked hard every day to earn her High School Equivalency Diploma. She plans to continue her education and earn a college degree. She excels at inspiring other students to keep pushing forward and reminds them to achieve their dreams no matter what the obstacles.

-Norma Salas was brought to the United States as a child by her parents. In high school, she became pregnant, and her father told her that it was the end of her life. When her parents moved back to Mexico, she knew she needed to go back to school to improve life for both herself and her 2-year-old son, so she enrolled in classes at The Literacy Alliance. Her father cried when she called to tell him that she had earned her diploma.  Now, she is working as a school assistant at Canterbury School and plans to pursue a degree in early childhood education.

The Waynedale News Staff
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