Over 150 people attended Literacy Partners’ GED Graduation Ceremony and Celebration on July 29th, 2014 at the Scholastic Building in SoHo. The evening was filled with joyous cheers and heartfelt laughter. It was kicked off with a reception catered by the Doe Fund– another literacy and workforce development organization that Literacy Partners frequently collaborates with. The graduates, some with their children in tow, proudly entered the auditorium as Pomp and Circumstance played. LP Board Member Edwidge Thomas from the NYU School of Nursing presided over the ceremony.
Beverly Jenkins, one of the graduates, was surprised to receive the Rodman Drake Memorial Scholarship Award for $1,000 to go towards her college tuition. Jenkins is attending Hostos Community College this fall. An emotional Jenkins took the stage and encouraged everyone in the audience, ‘I overcame a lot to be here, I never thought I would, but here I am. You can be here too.’
Dr. L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy, professor of Sociology and Black Studies at the City College of NY and author of the new book, Inequality in the Promised Land, delivered a rousing commencement address aimed not only at the graduates, but at students currently enrolled in various classes at Literacy Partners. ‘Some would see this ceremony as one for dropouts. But all I see are re-routes, big dreamers, and strivers who are commencing their lives today.’ Edwidge Thomas, after hearing the inspiring speech said, ‘Dr. Lewis-McCoy took us to church and back today!’
In addition to honoring the graduates, volunteer Lise Porter received the Harry Reingold Volunteer Award for her outstanding service. Described by Literacy Partners staff as someone who ‘goes above and beyond,’ and ‘shows unparalleled commitment to literacy and to families,’ Lise was celebrated for being an instrumental helper at Literacy Partners’ family literacy program.
As of January, 2014, the GED has been replaced by the TASC – the Test Assessing Secondary Completion – which is aligned with the new K-12 Common Core standards and is computer-based. Tuesday’s graduates passed the old GED test in December, 2013 and will not have to contend with the new test. Current students however, will be taking the TASC. When asked how he felt about this, Victor Bazemore said, ‘This graduation was so motivating, I don’t care what test I have to take. All I know is that I accept the challenge and like Dr. Lewis-McCoy said, I will dream big and I will get there.’
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