Governor addresses graduates of JJA high school program
Brownback gave the commencement address for the graduation ceremony of the school that serves youth in the Juvenile Justice Authority program located at the Kansas Juvenile Corrections Complex in Topeka.
“You’ve made an important step that not everyone in our state makes,” Brownback told the graduates. “Now you’ve got to make the next step, and it won’t be easy. You’ve got to ask yourself, do I want to let this make me bitter, or make me better. Nobody makes that choice for you.”
Brownback told the graduates not to allow their experiences thus far to sabotage their future.
“Don’t be scared to dream,” the governor said. “Sometimes things knock you back and you get scared to dream. But don’t stop dreaming, and then reach out and ask someone to help you accomplish your dream.”
Lawrence Gardner High School is a fully accredited high school designed to meet the needs of students housed in the complex. The special-purpose school, run by the Southeast Kansas Education Service Center, often called “Greenbush,” prepares students to successfully reintegrate into their previous school, or to complete their high school education while in the juvenile justice system.
The school awarded 11 high school and four GED diplomas to students at the ceremony. Two other graduates were unable to attend the ceremony.
“Education is key in helping you get where you want to go in life,” said Lawrence Gardner Education Director Gregg Nielson. “Getting your diploma is one step of many steps these young people will make in their working career.”
The Governor was accompanied by Terri Williams, Acting Commissioner of the Juvenile Justice Authority, at the ceremony. “Today is a day when we celebrate these youth reaching a milestone,” said Williams. “We are recognizing their hard work and investment in their future. Research tells us that education is a major piece in helping them to be successful.”
“I’m proud of these young people, as I’m sure their families are, and I’m also very proud and appreciative of the work of our staff here at KJCC.”
Lawrence Gardner High School, named after a former educator at the facility, serves between 500 and 600 students a year. It holds multiple graduation ceremonies each year as students progress through the Juvenile Justice Authority system. Greenbush has been the educational service provider of the Topeka-based
facility since 1989.