St. John Adult Education holds 2010 Graduation

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 19, 2010

“I never thought I would graduate,” was the thought held by the graduating class of the St. John the Baptist Parish Adult Education Center. As each experienced the sensation of walking across the stage to receive their General Equivalence Diploma, the event comes immediately following their thoughts, “I never thought I would ever have a prom.” A week earlier, they experienced just that.

Both of these hopes and dreams were realized this month, as the students enrolled in the Adult Education Program in St. John Parish, celebrated this milestone with a graduation ceremony brimming with tears, shouts of joy, exclamations of happiness and feelings of pride and accomplishment.

Recently, these students and their guests, dressed in their tuxedos, gowns and prettiest smiles, stepped into their unrealized dream celebration, thereby beginning to create the memories they never felt would ever happen to them. And following their prom, the students began another memorable journey. All students who had earned their GED prepared now to march across the stage; another experience they never imagined would happen for them.

Robed in their caps and gowns, with tassels proudly swaying, they experienced their graduation day with a ceremony filled with pomp and circumstance; none were prouder.

This occasion had great sentiment as it represented a personal and family, struggle to achieve this milestone.

As each graduate had their time to march down the aisle, walk across the stage and hear the words “You have graduated,” the tears of joy and bright, beaming smiles lit up the auditorium at Fifth Ward. A standing-room-only crowd observed and experienced the dignity and sacredness of the ceremony celebrating the accomplishments of their loved ones.

The words of congratulation, hope and determination, were offered by the guest speaker, Ann Harvey, a successful real estate investment broker. Harvey shared a statement made by a dean at a recent graduation she had attended. The dean informed the audience that the youngest graduate was 21 and the oldest graduate was 71, and that it is never too late to strive and reach your goals. She stated to the class that the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. The Adult Education Center’s oldest graduate in this class is 67, the youngest is 17. She encouraged the students to continue pursuing their education and they will be guaranteed to have many more experiences just like this graduation.

To encourage students to continue pursuing their education, Ann Harvey and Associates has established a $1,000 scholarship for any student who earns their GED at the Adult Education Center in St. John Parish, and provides documentation of enrollment in the higher institution of learning.

Presented by realtor Shelia Brown, four students met all criteria and shared equally in the award by receiving $250. They were Bruce Benjamin, Quinn McKinney and DeOntae Greenup, who are enrolled at Louisiana Technical College, and Jamyra Berfect, who is enrolled at Delgado Community College.

Rance Scott received a special award for his accomplishments and for his focused commitment to improve himself, his family, and add to the prosperity of this community.

Special events during this graduation featured a mother and son – Ralph and Sharon Keating, a pair of brothers – Chad and Jarius Wilson, and a sister and brother – Renata Booth and Gary Joseph, all graduating together.

In addition, the VFW Post No. 5852 Commander Baron Bunch and VFW Post No. 8167 Commander Allen St. Pierre, presented colors in a very stately fashion. With the National Anthem sung by Cynthia Fortner, and a solo by Oscar Lawrence, Jimmy Jules provided music for the occasion.

Surrounded by the staff, Pastor Herman Clayton Jr. offered the Invocation and Pastor Joyce Brown, the Benediction.