INDIANAPOLIS — Friday night was a long time coming for many of the 98 graduating students who walked across the stage at Christel House Academy's south campus.
Christel House Drop-Out Recovery School (DORS) is a tuition-free public charter school that serves students ages 18 and over. Students can earn a high school diploma, college credit at Ivy Tech Community College and workplace certifications.
Vop Osili, president of the Indianapolis City-County Council, spoke at the ceremony and said earning a diploma is a proud achievement for those in the graduating class.
"Many of the students who are here who graduated today have overcome far greater challenges than so many others," Osili said. "That determination, that grit that got them there, is probably worth far more than we know. And far more than people who got their high school degrees with no issue, no problem. Many of these individuals here tonight overcame incredible odds."
Kimberly Taylor was one of those students. She said her family was instrumental to encouraging her to go back to school and earn her degree.
"In our family, it's so important that we get our education, that way that we can make things of ourselves," Taylor said.
Osili said the oldest person in the graduating class is 52 years old, and he finds the determination to go back to school motivating.
"If you want it, you can do it," he said. "Regardless of the age that you are, it's achievable. And these 98 students prove that."
Now that she has gained a high school degree, Taylor is confident she can reach even higher goals in her life.
"From this, it's going to go so far," she said. "No matter how many struggles you go through in life, no matter where you come from, we all end up at the same place. And we get our education and make our lives better. And literally, all it takes, is one person to make a difference. Without family, you cannot do it."