Martha Smith said she has always felt like a quitter. When the going got tough, she said, she got going. It was no different eight years ago when she turned 18 in January of her sophomore year. She quit high school as soon as she was legally old enough to withdraw herself.
Her days of quitting ended this year, and on Oct. 22, Smith emotionally shared her story of success as she accepted her high school diploma and spoke at the Lifelong Learning Center’s Class of 2015 graduation ceremony.
Smith was one of 17 new high school graduates receiving diplomas at the 36th annual Adult Education Program graduation held at North Point High School. Diplomas were presented to the following graduates: Kourteney Carter, Kevin Cummings, Danielle N. Gatling, Christopher Godbee, Keisha Hayes, Marcia C. Henry, Alexis Hesse, Imartiana A. I. Hunt, Keth Kankanamage, Cristina Poblano-Morales, Lillian Raines, Martha E. Smith, Martha Rodriguez, Jacqueline M. Sanchez, Jenet Smalling, Vilma Sosa and Yesli T. Velasquez. There were 63 graduates from the Lifelong Learning Center during the 2014-15 school year.
“I may have done this eight years after I was supposed to, but I did do it. … I told myself at the beginning that I just couldn’t let my four-year-old daughter start school this year if I hadn’t finished what I started when I was her age. I need her to know and understand that quitting isn’t, nor ever will be, an option,” Smith said.
“It took a lot of courage for you to walk through that door (Lifelong Learning Center) for the first time, but you didn’t let fear or anxiety stop you. You made the choice to do the hard thing; you made the choice to not let anything or anyone stand in your way. You had taken a brave step into your future…,” Superintendent Kimberly Hill told the graduates.
Graduate Marcia Henry also shared her journey to earning a high school diploma. Growing up in Barbados, she said, presented a number of obstacles as she worked to complete her General Education Development (GED) diploma. Her journey began in July 2013 and the support she received from her teachers at the Lifelong Learning Center as well as from her family, helped her stay on track to graduate, even when she struggled with the material. “Earning the diploma was simple, but not easy,” Henry said while explaining the challenges she had to overcome.
Maryland State Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton briefly spoke to the graduates saying, “I hope this is just the first degree you get.”
The General Educational Development (GED®) program offers adult basic education classes, English as a second language classes, GED® preparation classes and a Maryland high school diploma through GED® testing. The NEDP® is for adults 18 and older who have acquired high school level skills through life experiences. These adults can earn a Maryland high school diploma through work done at home and through evaluation appointments.
Grant funding from Maryland Literacy Works and the U.S. Department of Education supports the adult education programs. Both the GED® and National External Diploma programs are offered through Charles County Public Schools to county residents at the Lifelong Learning Center in Pomfret and various locations in Waldorf. Classes are held throughout the day and the evening. Call 301-753-1774 for more information.
Charles County Public Schools provides 26,300 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.