State Superintendent Glenda Ritz to Attend Continuing Ed Graduation - March 02, 2015

Record Number: 12610
Displayed from: Mar 02, 2015 , until: May 02, 2015

The Fort Wayne Community Schools Adult and Continuing Education Department will celebrate the success of more than 250 graduates at its Commencement Ceremony at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 4, at North Side High School. Prior to the Commencement Ceremony the Literacy Alliance will host a reception from 6-6:45 p.m. at North Side. This year, the graduates will be recognized by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz.

From Feb. 11-Dec. 31, 2014, more than 250 students passed the High School Equivalency (HSE) Exam. These graduates are the first students to earn an HSE diploma instead of the GED (General Educational Development) certificate as a change in testing took place nationwide in 2014. Instead of just one national test, states were allowed to choose tests that are more closely aligned with a state’s academic standards. The test chosen by Indiana, the Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC), is a more rigorous test than the GED test and is closely aligned to College and Career Readiness Standards for Adult Education.

During Wednesday’s celebration, the stories of seven graduating students will be shared. The continuing education program serves adult students of all ages, many of whom have endured educational and personal struggles on their road to graduation. Highlighted students this year are:

Shirley DuVall - Dogged persistence brought Shirley to success. She began with The Literacy Alliance in 2007 often too shy to speak among strangers and busy with her home childcare business and caring for her own children. But, she persevered. She participated in a reading group who gently prompted the students to read aloud and reread when mispronunciations or misunderstandings occurred. Classmates encouraged Shirley to follow through at times when she thought she might quit. With the HSE diploma she’s been accepted to Indiana Tech where she will pursue a business degree.

Stephanie Debacher – Stephanie was just one credit away from graduating when she dropped out of high school. As a busy mother, she struggled with dead-end jobs paying minimum wage and wanted to do more for herself and her three daughters. She enrolled at Anthis and, through the FWCS Continuing Education program, prepared for the TASC, and loved it. She started college classes at Indiana Tech and is now pursuing a career in criminal justice. Her own life experience inspired her to seek a career in juvenile probation. She has been through a lot of what juvenile probation clients have been through and just wants to help.

Sanja Hadzic – Sanja arrived in the United States as a refugee from Croatia in 1995. Adjusting to life in the United States with her children but with no English-language skills, no car and no proof of her nursing credentials was challenging. She learned English by watching TV and started working in the health care field. But, when she found a new position, her new employer required her to pass the TASC. She passed and now finally feels like she belongs in the U.S.

Jasmine Hill – Jasmine was always a good student, but when she had a baby at 15, life quickly became overwhelming. She has found a job and is relieved that she is now on her way to achieving a brighter future for herself and her 3-year-old daughter. Having earned her HSE, she knows she can do whatever she puts her mind to, and she knows she’s not done with her education. With broad interests in technology, biology, the environment and ecosystems, Jasmine is looking into a variety of fields to pursue in college.

April Neal – April thought she would never be in a cap and gown, but she had motivation from her family and teachers who pushed her every day to succeed. Although she was nervous and felt too old to be in a classroom again, she found the encouragement and support she needed. The diploma has opened doors for April. She can pursue work, training, and education that she couldn’t before.

Lydia Romary – Lydia always thought she was bad in school. She and her four siblings were homeschooled and received the basics in math and phonics, but Lydia still struggled. She received tutoring help from family and friends and tried other tutoring services. She always knew she would attain a high school credential through this nontraditional pathway. In 2014, Lydia enrolled with The Literacy Alliance and took classes at their Fellowship Learning Center. Working through a succession of learning plans and studying at home, she progressed to where she could take the TASC. With her diploma, she has her sights set on an online photography school out of New York. Her ambition is to pursue photography as an art and profession.

James Shwe – James came to the United States as a Burmese refugee in 2008 with little knowledge of how to start a new life in this country. He experienced culture shock and felt too discouraged to try to pursue or further his career in his new country. He credits the support and encouragement of loved ones for his success in moving on to make a better life for himself and those around him. He is now a parent liaison for East Allen County Schools and addresses Burmese parents in their native language thanking them for all they are doing to nurture and guide the younger generation.


With nearly 30,000 students, Fort Wayne Community Schools is one of the largest school districts in Indiana. FWCS proudly allows families to choose any of its 50 schools through its successful school-choice program creating diversity in each school, including some with more than 75 languages spoken. FWCS offers seven magnet schools focusing on areas such as science and math, communication, fine arts or Montessori at the elementary and middle school level. In high school, students can choose from the prestigious International Baccalaureate program, Project Lead the Way or New Tech Academy as well as other rigorous academic and specialty training programs.