For ten adult students graduating from the Never Too Late program, their graduation ceremony was a bit like being a rockstar. Cameras flashed as the students walked down the aisle of the Maranatha Church, and someone from a local news channel was there to get it all on film, the tears, the pride and the never-ending math jokes. Never Too Late is a program that helps adults living in select NW communities complete their Grade 12 Equivalency Diploma (GED), by offering tutoring, funding for the GED exam and emotional supports.
The graduates (12 in total and ten at the ceremony) had very different reasons for not finishing high school originally, but they now all have one thing in common. Thanks to the help of this program they were all able to stand proudly in front of loved ones and hold up a diploma.
There were common threads among the students. About half had children, evidenced by the number of adorable kids squirming in the audience in their Sunday best, and two even had grandchildren. One of the grandparents, was motivated to join Never Too Late after hearing from her grandson, “why do I have to finish high school if grandma never did’. Her grandchildren inspired her to never give up.
Others would show up in classes after a full day’s work, and despite being exhausted, were there ready to learn. One of the valedictorians shared her story of being told at 12 years old that she had a learning disability but was never offered any support. She was left feeling that ‘she was stupid’. After leaving high school early because of a difficult home life, she feared she would never finish. Once entering the program, she received a full assessment of her learning disability and was finally offered the support she needed to learn; but the courage to work through it was all hers. Before joining Never Too Late she was out of hope, working minimum wage jobs and trying to support her two sons, she didn’t believe in much. Upon receiving her diploma through the program, she now believes she can do anything.
Like any graduation ceremony, the audience was filled with tearful and smiling relatives taking photos on cameras and iPhones. There was a brightly decorated reception following the ceremony with a sugary cake offering congratulations to the students. Instead of viewing the world ahead of them from the perspective of beginning adulthood, these graduates had already seen much of the world. The male valedictorian made it clear that he saw everyone as equal; everyone in that room and outside of it. All things equal though, these students fought and won a battle that many don’t have to face, and for that, they deserved this celebration.
Last year’s graduates are getting attention as well, watch Never Too Late graduate Katelyn Halvorson, who is on to bigger and better things!