GCC honors 160 GED graduates

October 25, 2013

GREENFIELD — For some, the path to a high school diploma is straight and simple, but for others, life gets in the way.

Some, eager to get into the “real world,” start GED programs as soon as they leave high school, while others go back to finish school much later in life.

Thursday’s GED graduation ceremony at Greenfield Community College honored the 160 teens, men and women who have passed GED testing at GCC this year. Their ages ranged from 16 to 68, though most fell somewhere in between.

Though most of the graduates couldn’t make it Thursday, the school’s dining commons were packed full with the friends and family of 30 graduates. Each one of them had a unique story to tell.

“I left Athol High School as a sophomore to pursue a relationship that turned out to be no good,” said Larysa Clarkson, of Orange.

Now 24, Clarkson has two young sons, and, as of Thursday, her GED. She’s done putting her life on hold.

“I didn’t think it would take this long to get my GED,” she said.

It was a long, hard road, she said. Through her studies, Clarkson cared for her 2-year-old son, Collin, went through a divorce, and gave birth to little Alexander.

Now, she’s got a plan, and a foundation to build her future on.

“I want to go to college next to earn my associate’s degree,” she said. “I wanted to start sooner, but I had to wait for Alexander to be born.”

Without her diploma, the single mother has had to rely on public assistance just to get by. She looks forward to the day that she can get a good job and make her own way in the world.

Now that she’s helped herself by getting her GED, she wants to help others.

“I’m thinking of becoming a paramedic,” she said. If you would like to enroll in a GED program, you can contact The Literacy Project, at 413-774-3934. The Literacy Project has GED centers in Greenfield, Orange, Ware, Northampton and Amherst. Courses are also available at through The Family Learning Center, 413-475-1549, and the Franklin/Hampshire Career Center, at 413-774-3182.

Though GED testing is conducted at GCC, GED courses are not currently available at the college. To schedule a GED test, call the GCC GED testing office, at 413-775-1147. Testing is available to Massachusetts residents 16 and older, who are not enrolled in high school and have not graduated.

RECORDER, David Rainville can be reached at: drainville@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 279.

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