TASC Graduation 2016

TASC Graduation 2016
Posted on 01/20/2017
TASC Graduation 2016Thirty-five students, ranging from 16-56 years of age, walked across the stage in a cap and gown graduation ceremony at Schenectady High School Thursday evening.  These students, who worked hard to earn a national high school equivalency certificate, achieved a milestone that will open doors and serve as the first step of a new and exciting journey. 

City and school leaders were on hand to offer advice and wish the proud students luck moving forward. The general message from all was to accept this achievement as a huge step and to keep persevering and moving in this direction.

Rosa Rivera, a former student who dropped out, then came back to not only earn her diploma but to continue on and earn a Masters degree, shared her story of encouragement and inspiration.

Superintendent Larry Spring congratulated the students and spoke about pride, perseverance and potential.  "We want you to be as proud of yourself as we are," he told the group.   "With perseverance you will generate your success. You are the author of your story.  You have potential." 

Each student has a different story and turn of events leading to this day.  Some overcame personal struggles.  Others realize that this achievement will help lead to a better life.  But, most of them know that they must continue to learn in order to move toward their potential.

According to Jesse Roylance, director of the center, 281 students passed the test at the Washington Irving testing site.  In order to earn a certificate, students must pass assessments in five subject areas and demonstrate achievement relative to that of graduating high school seniors and Career and College Readiness standards.  Roylance said that 71% of those who passed are employed and 60% of the students are in post-secondary schools. 

Mayor Gary McCarthy told the students that it is their perseverance and tenacity that has brought them to this day.  "This is a milestone you have reached," he added.  "Keep an open mind.  I know you will go on and do great things."

Cathy Lewis, president of the board of education, told the students that this is one of her favorite events.  She congratulated the students on behalf of the board and encouraged them to continue learning.  "Put time into reading," she advised.  "Keep taking steps every day and vow to take another step tomorrow to learn something new." 

Rivera told the students that after earning her diploma, she went on to graduate from Schenectady County Community College, SUNY Oswego and then Loyola College where she earned a Masters in Social Justice and Community Development. 

She said that, during her journey,  she started asking questions and trying to decide, "what will I do with my life?"  Rivera said that she soon realized that the question she should be asking herself is "not what do I want to do, but, who do I want to be?  What will I stand for?" 

She explained that she searched for answers, truths, justice and love.  "You don't have to look outside yourself for change," she added.  "The most important person for you to know, is you."  Today, Rivera is a community advocate and leader for the Schenectady Foundation and is leading the "Miracle on Craig Street" charge. 

Also during the ceremony, Erica Pacheco, T'halia Slade and LaRhonda Anderson were awarded scholarships by the Schenectady Adult Educators Association (SAEA).

Family members, friends and teachers of the graduates cheered throughout the ceremony. 

At the beginning of the ceremony, Roylance told the graduates, "I am extremely proud of you all.  "You should be proud of yourself."  

After the certificates were handed out and guests were done speaking, pride filled the auditorium.  The nearly two hundred guests in the seats cheered as Roylance told the students,  "now move your tassel from the right to the left."

As the graduates began the procession out of the auditorium, you could feel the pride and see the large smiles all around.    
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