More than 60 friends and relatives of students graduating from the Education Center’s high school programs gathered to celebrate the students’ achievements. Graduation ceremonies mark an important step in the transition to adulthood. Most graduates must face the realities of finding a good job or continuing their education. In either case, a high school education facilitates this transition.
Featured speaker Mary Cruz Magdaleno described how she first had to learn English before she could effectively prepare to take the exams leading to the GED (General Education Diploma). Mary is one of the many students who are unable to succeed in the traditional public school system, yet have the drive and ability to achieve a high school education.
The Archuleta County Education Center operates two programs to serve such students. Mary chose the GED program, which required that she pass standardized exams in reading, writing, social studies, science and math. The Education Center prepares students for these exams.
The Archuleta County High School is the other program serving youth who have not succeeded in the traditional public school. This program is administered through a three-way collaboration among Pueblo Community College, the Archuleta School District and the Archuleta County Education Center. Graduation from this program requires passing ACT Work Keys exams in nine areas, as well as satisfactory completion of other studies required by the Colorado Department of Education. Students enrolled in this program can participate in many activities sponsored by the public school system, including athletics.
Although a GED does not guarantee a better job, studies show that a GED most often increases the annual salary of high school dropouts by 5 to 10 percent. Over a lifetime of work, this is a considerable amount of money. Furthermore, the GED is recognized by most trade schools and community colleges as equivalent to a high school diploma. All branches of the military normally reserve a few slots for recruits holding the GED.
The graduation ceremony was followed by a barbecue and lots of talk about what the new graduates will do as they take the next step to adulthood.