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Adult high school is taking off, with students eager to get high school diplomas

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Posted at 4:55 PM, Feb 21, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-21 16:55:45-05

BALTIMORE (WMAR) -- An adult high school that opened up in Baltimore late last year is exceeding expectations.

It's a huge opportunity for the estimated 80,000 Baltimore residents who don't have their high school diploma.

In just three months after opening their doors, the Goodwill Baltimore Excel Center has already reached maximum capacity and have extended the day classes to go until 6.

They break down barriers that prevent some of these students from finishing school.

Pick up your pencils and get ready to learn, term three has started for adult high school at the Baltimore Excel Center.

Funded through Goodwill and the state of Maryland, the program allows adults ages 21 and up to take the necessary classes left to earn their high school diploma.

"Students with a variety of backgrounds and credit loads so we'll get their transcripts from them and whatever credits they earned in high school they get to keep,” said Sherry Defrancisci whos is the Director of Adult High School at Excel Center.

Then it's just about making up the remainder of credits to graduate. But if you've never started high school you start from the beginning.

"You're on an 8th grade reading level and you come to us it will take you two years to complete four years of high school work,” said Defrancisci.

Opening the door to opportunity the program has a 70 percent passage rate.

"A lot of them have already tried other things like going through the GED program and trying to get four years of math on one math test, that's a lot for anybody so here they like this hands on personal approach,” said Defrancisci.

"It's a big opportunity for me right, not only for me but it there is a lot of Latin people, like immigrants and they think that there's no chance for us, there is many chance, many opportunities we just need to look for them,” said Edgar Alvarec who is a student at the Excel Center Adult High School.

Alvarec is from Honduras and jumped at the chance to get his diploma, with hopes to go to college to become a nurse.

"I want to be working helping people and doing something that I love," said Alvarec.

"I wanted to do this for myself because in the years I’ve been doing things for everybody else and I think it's time for me to do for myself,” said Vivian Watkins who is a student at the Excel Center Adult High School.

At the age of 80, Watkins said she enjoys her teachers and classes and is living testament to show you're never too old to learn.

"It's a wonderful thing if anybody really wants to accomplish something it don't matter how old they are they still can get it,” said Watkins.

It's not just about getting your diploma. The program also requires students to get either an industry recognized certification or dual credits through a college, both offered through the program.

"So when you leave here with your high school diploma you're already ready to enter the work force,” said Defrancisci.

The maximum capacity for each term is 150 and each student gets a life coach to guide them all the way to graduation. The first graduation is scheduled for June.

Students are accepted into the classes based on if the student's schedule matches the classes that are offered.