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Adult Education Commencement a culmination of new decisions

May 17, 2010|By JULIE E. GREENE
  • Nahshon Chambers gives his mother, Catrice Davis, a bouquet and a kiss Sunday as she graduates during the Adult Education Commencement ceremony. Davis was one of the student speakers.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer,

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    HAGERSTOWN -- Catrice Davis used to love getting up early to go to school.

    "I thoroughly enjoyed school. School was a place you go to meet your friends and establish relationships, and learn so many different things that will take you through the rest of your life," Davis told a few hundred people attending Sunday's Adult Education Commencement in Hagerstown Community College's Athletic, Recreation and Community Center.

    But she had to make a tough decision and drop out of high school so she could care for the child she delivered when she was 16, she said.

    A few years ago, she moved to Washington County and opened a vegetarian cafe in the Hagerstown area. With the economy tough recently, Davis said she prayed for guidance.

    Then she opened the mail and found a catalog from HCC containing information about the college's External Diploma Program.

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On Sunday, Davis, 44, of Hagerstown, graduated from that program in front of her family.

Of the 79 people graduating, 34 completed the External Diploma Program and 45 earned their GED, or General Equivalency Diploma, said Dawn Schoenenberger, director of developmental education and adult literacy services.

The External Diploma Program is the equivalent of a high school diploma. The program gives students a chance to apply career skills to task-based problems, such as comparing bank loans or cost comparisons involved in buying a car, Schoenenberger said.

The External Diploma Program costs $200 per student and takes, on average, eight months to complete, Schoenenberger said.

HCC officials decided to eliminate the $85 admission fee for the 45-hour class and just charge for the textbook, which costs less than $20, Schoenenberger said.

They also varied course hours so classes were available during the day and evening, Schoenenberger said. If a student missed a chance to get an algebra lesson, there was another chance to catch that class, she said.

Compared with the 15 students currently in the GED program, there were maybe five in the class a year ago, Schoenenberger said.

Guillermo Perez, 36, of Hagerstown, graduated with his GED on Sunday.

When Perez was 26, he moved from Mexico City to Smithsburg, and then to Hagerstown nine years ago, he said.

Perez said he finished secondary school in Mexico.

He decided to pursue his GED in the U.S. because he wanted to improve his career opportunities and learn English, said Perez, who is a landscaper for Hav-A-Lawn & Garden in Myersville, Md.

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