The WCCC Aspire program recognized high school equivalency diploma graduates from the 2020-21 school year recently with a ceremony at Armco Park. Eleven graduates in caps and gowns attended and were congratulated by Aspire staff and Superintendent Rick Smith, Adult Director Kim Gates, and WCCC board members, President Bobbie Grice and Vice-President Esther Larson. Ohio Department of Higher Education Senior Vice Chancellor Gary Cates was also present to give the students his congratulations. One of those recognized, Mary Hatfield, earned her HiSET credentials last school year and is now in college. She had been out of school almost 20 years when she finally could return and finish her high school degree, leaving school in her junior year. She was set to graduate in 2002 when circumstances prevented her from graduating, but she never lost the desire to complete her education.
“My parents didn’t have child care for my younger siblings and I was having a lot of learning issues that the school I went to didn’t want to address,” she said. “I also had missed a month of school due to having walking pneumonia. We decided to home school and with the job my mother worked she wasn’t able to keep up with it. I wanted to get my high school education done and accomplish it. But I helped raise my siblings until they were able to care for themselves. I started going to these classes several years ago and then my mom became ill and I cared for her for 13 years until she passed in 2019 and I was able to go back to the classes.”
She said her Aspire teachers kept pushing and worked with her, and everyone in her classes, in many different ways to make sure they understood whatever it was they were struggling with.
“IT FELT AMAZING!” she said about earning her credentials and applying to college. “I want to thank Beth and Karen at Aspire and my family, friends, and boyfriend for sticking by me. I am currently enrolled at UC Blue Ash for Pre-Mortuary Science. I am working on my 2-year degree there and from there I will finish my last two years at Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science.”
A total of 276 adults, ranging in age from 17 to 71, were enrolled in Aspire programs last year, and 44 earned high school credentials including GED, HiSET and Ohio Adult Diploma. The Adult Diploma Program offers adults a chance to earn an Ohio high school diploma along with an industry credential, all at no cost to the student. This past school year, six ADP graduates in Warren County earned credentials through WCCC Adult Education, including two in Welding, two in Robotics and 2 in State Tested Nursing Assistant.
The English for Speakers of Other Languages classes served students from 41 countries. Languages spoken included Albanian, French, Spanish, Korean, Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, Czech, Kyrgyz, Russian, Tajiki, Gujarati, Portuguese, Turkish, Farsi, and Ukrainian.
Among the 2020-21 Aspire students, 32 earned a credential from the ODE Industry Recognized Credentials while enrolled or within one year of exit, and 18 have self-reported that they are enrolled in postsecondary education.