Sierra Sands Adult School graduates 29

By Kern
KernKern Posted July 24, 2019 at 6:50 PM
Sierra Sands Adult  School graduates 29
Sierra Sands Adult school graduates line up at the start of the ceremony on Thursday night at the Burroughs High School Parker Performing Art Center. The class of 2018 graduated 29 students, 17 of whom attended the ceremony.

Celebration is 1st of the district’s busy grad season

Before friends and family, 17 of the 29 Sierra Sands Adult School graduates received their diplomas at a graduation ceremony held at Burroughs High School Parker Performing Arts Center on Thursday.

According to principal Jo Anne McClelland, those 29 students ranged in age from 18 to 56 and came from various backgrounds. Some had children and families—one was a grandfather. All had aspirations when going back to school for their diploma: many cite college as their ultimate goal; others wanting to better themselves or accomplish something they thought was no longer obtainable.

“This is a huge accomplishment for those here who have overcome adversity to reach this goal,” McClelland said. “Each one of them has a story of how they found themselves in adult school.” Some cited a needing a better job, others proving they could do it or creating better lives for themselves. Some want to be counselors, child care workers, business owners, or a doctor or nurse.

Chad Houck, former principal of Mesquite High School and Sierra Sands Adult School, and current Cerro Coso College dean of instruction for liberal arts and sciences, reflected on an exercise called “River of Life” that college staff participated in. “Each of us created a poster that represented the paths we took to get to Cerro Coso,” Houck said. He said what he found was he considered that adult education begins at 18 and continues through life.

“Adult education is the first time in our lives when we are not compelled to go to school—we choose to go to school or maybe not to,” Houck said. It could range from anything like completing a high school diploma to earning a Ph.D. later on. He noted while education in and of itself might not make life easier or better, “it provides a tool to make the most of opportunities when they come along.”

Adult School graduate Devon Greening called 2018 a journey that included overcoming a number of obstacles and a number of successes, like achieving sobriety, graduating high school, and attending college. He quoted “The Office” actor Ed Helms from a commencement speech given at Knox College: “Don’t be afraid of fear. Because it sharpens you, it challenges you, it makes you stronger; and when you run away from fear, you also run away from the opportunity to be the best version of you.” Greening said in today’s society, people should encourage one another—especially the youth—“and encourage them not to let fear take over.”

Fellow graduate Gabriel Gordon reflected on his own path. He didn’t earn his diploma at 18, but managed to secure a steady future. His path took him from a gas station employee to car service technician. He attempted to apply to a number of state and federal jobs, to no avail due to educational requirements.

“I did not think I could go to school again as I was married with two kids,” he said. His career from service tech shifted after he met a former co-worker who offered him a position, but Gordon noted at that point in life, he was getting older. Instead he became a service consultant for 18 years.

“The job was a tough one and at the end, I was burned out,” he said. “Fast forward to 2018 and we relocated here to Ridgecrest to start a new life.” It offered a lifestyle they could enjoy. Gordon said “something haunted me,” and it was finishing something he had started some 39 years ago. He found out that he could earn his diploma through Adult School, met with school staff, who obtained his high school transcripts and was told he only needed 40 credits to complete his goal.

Sierra Sands superintendent Ernie Bell ended the ceremony with a reflection of talents and gifts, and each prepares people in life in different ways. He noted each person has a gift and a talent. Talents often are something that people utilize to earn a living, a gift was something different: it offers fulfillment.

He said it takes a lot for those who pursue their high school diplomas, and success can be measured by drive, along with surrounding one with those who support and motivate you.

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