I took advantage yesterday of the opportunity to attend the graduation ceremony of some of our adult education program completers. Nearly twenty men varying in age from early twenties to mid-fifties had finished their preparation studies and successfully passed the GED exams.
Just for the record, past studies have shown that about forty percent of folks who obtain a high school diploma cannot score high enough to earn the GED. So, it’s no small accomplishment. Beyond that, three of the men scored high enough to qualify for Cowley College scholarships. Even better!
In view of their accomplishment, a few of the men had family who made the trip over from wherever they happen to live to witness the ceremony. Some had driven a few hundred miles to be there. It’s hard to over-estimate that kind of support.
Along with the usual protocol of recognizing appropriate dignitaries, we also acknowledged and applauded the work of our colleague, LaVaughan Scheurich. LaVaughan works for Cowley College’s adult education program and excels in working with this particular demographic. Her unflappable firmness, decency, encouragement and intelligence create a darn near perfect blend for getting these men on track for successful completion of this credential. At the appropriate time, the graduates and their friends gave LaVaughan a well-earned and very enthusiastic round of applause.
In similar fashion, as each man’s name was called and he came forward to receive his certificate, he was greeted with loud clapping and friendly hoots and calls from audience members. Some of the graduates responded with cheerful fist pumps of celebration and then moved along the receiving line of College, local and state officials. It was gratifying and enjoyable to see the sharing of celebration.
The final speaker, after all the awards had been handed out, asked for one more round of applause for LaVaughan and we all happily obliged. Then, he said, “Let’s give some recognition to the entire staff here for the work they do.” Once again, there was a loud and enthusiastic response.
I leaned over to the state director of adult education who was sitting next to me. “You know, if you can treat people in a prison in such a way that prompts a response like this from the inmates, then you ought to be able to treat any group of people in a way that conveys respect, don’t you think?”
She smiled and nodded vigorously.