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A Diploma Creates Hope for Juvenile Correctional Youth Resident

by Cheryl Cadue last modified Jan 03, 2017 12:01 PM
As a former high school student in Abilene, 18-year-old Dylan, whose real name is being withheld for privacy issues, had never considered graduating a goal or even relevant. But Thursday, earning a diploma had new meaning for the Larned Juvenile Correctional Facility (LJCF) resident whose expected release is in 2018.
A Diploma Creates Hope for Juvenile Correctional Youth Resident

Dylan donned a cap and gown Thursday to become a member of the Class of 2016 at Larned Juvenile Correctional Facility.

“I didn’t see going to school as important,” said the beaming graduate, dressed in a black cap and gown. “After a while, I learned how important it is in the real world. To pursue a future – a successful one – you need your education.”

Dylan along with 18 other youth residents received their high school diplomas, GED certificates or welding and manufacturing skills certificates Thursday during a ceremony held in the gym of Westside High School, LJCF’s high school in United School District 495.

Flocked by other residents at the all-male facility, parents and staff, the six high school graduates and three GED certificate holders each handed out a yellow rose to a family member in appreciation of their support as their names were called.

Dylan, who earned both a diploma and a manufacturing skills certificate, handed his yellow rose to his grandmother who attended the event with Dylan’s father, grandfather and brother.

“This is something I never thought about,” said Dylan, who hopes to continue his education in pursuit of becoming a computer engineer. “I realized it would be a happy day [to graduate] and it is. I’m really happy to be here.”

In addition to traditional high school courses, Westside High School offers GED courses, vocational courses, dual credit classes in cooperation with Barton County Community College, as well as regular college credit courses.

The Westside High school ceremony featured a performance of contemporary Christian artist Chris Tomlin’s “I Will Follow” by the school’s student council president who was accompanied by another student council member on guitar.

In her speech, LJCF Superintendent Wendy Leiker called graduation day her favorite day.

“Today is the day that I and all the staff work for - this is a celebration of you today,” she said. “We are all proud of you at LJCF. Remember how you feel today.”

Before the graduates turned their tassels and tossed their caps, Westside High School Principal Dick Bixler urged the students to remain motivated in realizing their dreams and to stay positive despite any barriers they would face in pursuit of their dreams for themselves and for their families.

“We do appreciate working with you and hope we have all helped you on your path,” he said.

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