A local program that allows people to earn a high school diploma as an adult is graduating 22 people this year.
The Adult Education and Literacy program is funded by the federal and state government and is designed to enable adults who did not graduate high school to prepare for and pass the High School Equivalency Test, also called the HiSET. It also offers English language programming to those learning English as a second language, according to Ron Jewell, AEL program assistant director.
Participants must be 17 or older to take classes at one of the four Central Missouri sites — Jefferson City, Fulton, Eldon and Versailles. As long as they continue to attend and do the necessary assignments, people can take the time they need to study and pass the HiSET.
In the past, the program has had graduates all the way up into their 70s. The median age is around the mid to late 30s, Jewell said.
While not all were able to attend the graduation Thursday night at Lincoln University, 22 were able to pass the HiSET this year. Additionally, 11 students were inducted into the National Adult Education Honors Society for their exemplary attendance, work ethic and cooperation.
The ceremony also had a few honored guests, including Jefferson City Mayor Ron Fitzwater and state Rep. Rudy Veit.
Students had a variety of goals after graduating. Some had their sights set on a post-secondary school like State Technical College or Lincoln. Others hoped to obtain a promotion or extra pay in their jobs.
Others did it to be a good example for their children.
“And some of them just want to do it because it’s like a bucket-list thing,” Jewell said. “They left school a long time ago, kind of left the door open, so to speak, and now they want to come back and … finish it off.”