Butler County Community College’s free high school equivalency program will hold a ceremony to graduate nearly 50 students later this week.
Commencement for the 49 students, 37 from Butler County and 12 from Mercer County, who have earned diplomas over the past fiscal year will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday in BC3’s Succop Theater.
State Representative Brian Ellis will be on hand to present a certificate of achievement to graduates. The $120 cost to take the high school equivalency tests is covered by BC3 employees through financial gifts to the BC3 Education Foundation designated to benefit the adult literacy program.
A total of 185 students from Butler and Mercer Counties are currently enrolled in this program. Nearly 300 students, some as senior as 72 years old, have received diplomas through BC3’s high school equivalency program since 2010.
“Students feel like they stick out in the world, because they feel that pressure, and as they get older, that pressure gets harder and harder to overcome because they know that they have never completed that,” said teacher Rhiannon Baron, who has been instructing high school equivalency courses at BC3 for two years. “Society says that you need to get your high school diploma. I feel that from the students that I have had, they just constantly feel pressure that they never received that. When that pressure is lifted, they are like a totally different person. They just feel like, ‘Wow, this is amazing.’”
A graduation ceremony at BC3 for those receiving high school equivalency diplomas began in 2006, said Barb Gade, who as grant director of BC3’s adult literacy program is buoyed by the expressions of those students she sees crossing the stage in black gowns and mortarboards with golden tassels.
“That sense of pride, and the opening of the vision of what they can do with their life,” Gade said, “that’s the coolest part. That is why I am here. I love seeing that open to students.”
The reasons are many for those who did not complete a diploma while in high school, she said.
“Sometimes life just gets in your way,” Gade said. “Each person has his own story as to why it was not done, why it was not accomplished in the traditional manner.”
Liam Crowley, 20, of Butler, arrived in December at the First United Methodist Church Ministry Center, one of eight Butler County sites at which BC3 conducts high school equivalency courses. Crowley dropped out of high school as a sophomore, envisioned a career as a fire performer and planned to resume his education through a cyberschool.
“I didn’t have the determination or the care to actually follow through with my classes,” Crowley said. “I found out the repercussions as I got older. I could not get a realistic job to live off of without a diploma.”
Crowley, who since December had passed high school equivalency tests in language arts and in social studies, worked with Baron before taking examinations June 19 in mathematics and in science at Slippery Rock University, which with the Armstrong Center for Community Learning is a regional certified diploma testing center.
The next morning, Crowley received an email.
“I passed everything,” he said.
Crowley said he is now considering attending college to study professions in the healthcare or graphic design fields.
Up to 20 percent of students who receive diplomas resulting from attending BC3’s high school equivalency program pursue degrees at a college or university, Gade said.
“I am very proud of myself,” Crowley said. “I am the kind of person that whenever I accomplish my goals, they are not as satisfying as I want them to be. I always want more. I feel good about it, but I want more. It was something I should have been able to do years ago. I just needed to apply myself and get it done.”
Twelve percent of U.S. adults age 25 or older do not hold at least a high school diploma, according the U.S. Census Bureau, a statistic mirrored in Mercer County. BC3 this fall will offer adult literacy courses in Mercer County at BC3 @ LindenPointe, Hermitage; at the Grove City Education Center for Adults; at the Mercer County CareerLink, Sharon; at Prince of Peace Center, Farrell; at Hempfield Elementary School, Greenville; and at the Mercer County Jail, Mercer.
BC3 offers adult literacy courses in Butler County on its main campus and at Deshon Place at the VA Medical Complex, both in Butler Township; at BC3 @ Cranberry in Cranberry Township; at the Mars Area Public Library; and at the First United Methodist Ministry Center, the Pennsylvania CareerLink, the Blind Association of Butler and at the Butler County Prison, all in Butler.
BC3 this fall will offer adult literacy courses in Lawrence County at BC3 @ Lawrence Crossing, the Lawrence County CareerLink and the Lawrence County Literacy Center, all in New Castle; and at Lincoln High School, Ellwood City.
Dr. Case Willoughby, BC3’s vice president for student affairs and enrollment management, will welcome graduates, students and guests on Thursday night. Other scheduled speakers are Meg Ashenden, education coordinator and instructor in BC3’s adult literacy program; Arthur Stewart, an instructor at Summit Academy, Herman; and Rachel Zizzo, Quentin Thompson, August Mannas and Crowley, all of whom recently earned high school equivalency diplomas. Dr. Belinda Richardson, BC3’s vice president for academic affairs, will deliver the keynote address.
Graduates on Thursday night will have their photograph taken, and receive a certificate of achievement from state Rep. Brian Ellis, R-11, of Lyndora, which recognizes the students for “hard work and dedication in achieving an exceptional goal.”
The 49 students to graduate in 2018 with diplomas as a result of BC3’s high school equivalency courses are second only to the 59 who did so in 2014, Gade said, adding that the college’s program changes the outlook on life of its participants.
The post BC3’s Adult Literacy Program To Graduate Second-Highest Number With Diplomas Since 2010 appeared first on ButlerRadio.com – Butler, PA .