The long hot summer days are behind us now and we’re entering the season of pumpkins, football, and crisp autumn weather. For many of you, it’s also the beginning of pre-school for your first born or it’s the last year of high school for your eldest. But there is a different population going back to school this year.
There are more than 60,000 adult DC residents who lack a high school diploma. With the growing need for enhanced academic credentials in order to secure sustainable employment in today’s modern world, a high school diploma has become all but mandatory.
This fall, 325 students will be attending The Goodwill Excel Center, an Adult Charter High School in the District of Columbia awarding high school diplomas and industry recognized certifications rather than a GED.
As I’ve spent time talking with the students I’ve learned the reasons for returning to high school are very different for each student. At a recent orientation, I learned some students grew up as teen mothers and now that their children are back in school they have freedom to reinvest time in their own education. Many have been able to fake it or slide by without a diploma and have now realized they need real credentials to grow in their career and make more money. There are also many who want to set a good example for both their kids and extended family members. And still others who realized how important an education is when they were unable to help their own children with simple homework problems.
The decision to go back to school is not an easy one, but after The Excel Center’s very first high school graduation you could see the hope, confidence, and determination in the graduates. The work had been worth it. During the ceremony the class valedictorian shared:
“Fellow graduates, over the past year we’ve been faced with many ups and downs. Thoughts of giving up, many sleepless nights second guessing the decision we’d made. Is it worth it? Is this really what I want? Who am I really doing this for? This class is too hard, I can’t possibly receive a passing grade in this class. We’ve had our doubts, but what a surreal sight it is to be here where we all are at this very moment. All of our hard work, staying overtime at school to complete an assignment, constantly rearranging and adjusting to the many changes, it was all to get us to this moment right here right now, and we did it. I didn’t come here with the intentions on making any friends yet I’ve made something much more valuable, I’ve made life long friends.”
He continued, “second chances are not given to make things right, but are given to prove that we could be better even after we fall. We took this second chance and proved that we’re better than who we were. From this day forward, we’re gonna EXCEL and RISE above!”
I applaud the current students who have decided to return despite their past and current circumstances. It takes courage, sacrifice, and hard work to pursue a better life not only for themselves but for their families.
To all of the Goodwill Excel Center students and students of all kinds…
WELCOME BACK TO SCHOOL!