They dropped out of high school for a variety of reasons.
But the 65 students assembled for the Clark County Adult Education Center GED graduation ceremony Saturday had one thing in common: They had the courage to go back to school to get their high school diplomas, and get a second chance to make a better life for themselves and their families.
While it wasn’t easy, it was definitely worth all the hard work, said class valedictorian Damon Luxus Sr., who dropped out of high school as a senior in 1991.
“I used to watch commercials on TV that said instead of sitting around, you could be doing something with yourself and get your diploma. At 39 years old, I never thought I would go back to school, but I got tired of getting turned down for jobs and the opportunities that were passing me by for not having an education, so I came down and got my GED,” said Lucus. “I thought it was going to be challenging going in, and it was, but the faculty at the center is amazing and always there for you and supportive. If you have the time, go back. Knowledge is power. It’s well worth the effort.”
The commencement speaker, the Rev. Gerald R. Johns, senior minister of First Christian Church on East Hickman St., compared the students’ journeys toward their GED to sailing a boat, saying sometimes you have to take an alternate route to get to your ultimate destination.
“It’s never too late to decide what your destination is going to be. It may be that if you decide late in life what your ultimate goal is going to be, you might have to navigate some extra miles in order to get back on the path you want to be on, but you can always set a new course for yourself,” Johns said. “The GED is probably not what you intended for yourself when you were growing up as a child and going to school. It came as an alternate route to the destination. You’ve already taken a different tack, but you can still maintain your course.”
For Andrew Rogers, that alternate route took 33 years to complete after he dropped out of high school as a sophomore and joined the Army.
“I was supposed to graduate in 1978, but they were going to hold me back a year, and I kind of got mad about it and quit,” said Rogers. “About six months ago, I decided to come back and get my GED. I just figured it was time to get my life straightened up and do the right thing and go back and get my diploma. This is a wonderful program, and I wish everybody who doesn’t have a high school diploma would come back and get their GED.”
Johns congratulated the graduates on their accomplishment, but encouraged them not to stop with getting their GED and not let anyone get in the way of them achieving their ultimate goals.
“Don’t let others tell you what you can not do. You’ve probably already done more than some in your lives have said you could have. Your limitations through are your own. A sail boat can go anywhere on the face of the earth where there is water. Your journey is only limited by what you dare not try,” said Johns. “Your life is like a ship, and your diploma is a passage to limitless places. Sail your ship. Be the captain of your ship. Do not take refuge in the harbor. Sail your ship. God be with you.”
Contact Bob Flynn at email@example.com.