Alternative high school students recently donned caps and gowns for a celebration of a milestone that was left uncompleted in the past. ESSDACK in Great Bend held a graduation ceremony for 16 nontraditional students who have finished requirements for graduation, sometimes decades after those their age finished.
ESSDACK offers an “alternative for people who dropped out and want to get high school credits,” said Justin Schwartz, ESSDACK director.
“We get all types of students from all over the U.S.,” said Schwartz. If they achieve their enrollment requirements, there is no cost to the student.
“It’s a self-paced program,” said Schwartz. “You can work from home. You have to do tests here(at ESSDACK). You can also come in and work at school.”
The program is open to anyone ages 16 and older.
“Our oldest student was in their 60s,” said Schwartz. “They’re motivation is because it’s on their bucket list.”
“The younger students need a diploma to get a job,” said the director. “More and more places won’t take a GED.”
With a diploma, the students make up credits they lack. With a GED, students take a test.
ESSDECK co-ops with Hoisington High School, Ellinwood High School and Great Bend High School to grant diplomas. The diplomas meet those school’s graduation requirements, using the student’s high school transcripts.
ESSDACK has two certified teachers on staff, ESL teacher Patty Fletchall and Schwartz. Students study any subject required for a diploma.
Students then complete online classes in whatever courses are needed with assistance provided as needed. ESL students are in the classroom.
“We do have remediation courses,” said Schwartz. “We can accommodate special needs.”
Stephanie Pierto graduated in 2012 through ESSDACK. She dropped out of Great Bend High School. “I didn’t really fit in. I felt older,” she said.
She finished in a year and regards the experience as very positive. “It’s better because you have to learn. You have to work for it,” she said. “You just can’t sit in class and get credit for it.”
“You can go however fast you want to go,” she said. “I would recommend it for people who have dropped out.”
“This is making them college or career ready,” said Schwartz.
For more information, call 620-792-7995. The school is closed when the public schools are closed.
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