As GED graduates told of their journey to last Thursday’s Bainbridge State College GED graduation ceremony, the words of the keynote speaker were perhaps the most poignant: This is simultaneously a milestone and a steppingstone.

For example, Frederick West of Bainbridge and Amanda Fearrington of Blakely told the audience of their journey to earning their GED – when earning it took years with failed attempts. But it also took faith from others and of themselves.

West started studying for the GED in 2006. Then he was incarcerated, which is when he knew he had to change the direction of his life. While in prison, he went back to studying for the GED. Lorraine Hamlin, the College’s lead GED instructor in Decatur County, started working with West in 2006. When he got back to studying for the GED while in prison, she would grade his essay portions, writing encouraging notes to him on the top of his practice essays. When West was released, he continued to study at the College’s Adult Education Center with Hamlin’s encouragement.

“She was very encouraging, and she went the extra mile,” West said after the ceremony of how Hamlin helped him. “She believed in me.”

West is now taking welding classes at an area technical college.

Fearrington said her son, Quen, was her inspiration, but it was Samuel Williams who had faith in her. Williams, the GED lead instructor at the Early County Center, told Fearrington there are interruptions in life, but she needs to keep her goal of offering a better life for her and her son as her driving force. She plans to enroll in Bainbridge State’s nursing program in April.

“I didn’t think I could do it. Anything is possible if you put God first,” Fearrington said. “I got a lot of encouragement from Mr. Williams.”

Bainbridge State’s Vice President for Academic Affairs Tonya Strickland was Thursday’s keynote speaker.  She told the graduates the ceremony marked a milestone and a steppingstone and gave them suggestions on how to make good choices as they move forward based on research that said people at the end of their lives wished they had been more reflective, more courageous and clearer about their purpose in life. Dr. Strickland encouraged the audience to take more time to think, and especially more time to think of others; to take risks; and finally, to be more clear in their purpose in life and to perhaps even write out their life’s mission statement.

Dr. Strickland quoted famed children’s author, Dr. Seuss. “You have a brain in your head and feet in your shoes so you can steer yourself in any direction you choose,” she said. “Choose wisely and make the most of your life.”

The GED graduates

There were 85 Bainbridge State Adult Education students who finished their GED between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2013. Fifty-two participated in Thursday’s ceremony.

In order to have graduated under the old test, each graduate must have passed all five fields, such as reading, writing, math, science and social studies, with a minimum of 410 per test, and reach a total overall score of 2250. The test measures achievement in course content comparable to that taught in high schools.

This year marks the beginning of a new format for the GED test, where students will have to answer questions by completing a sentence, fill in the blank, short answer, perform several higher learning tasks and compose two essays.

There were eight students who scored 2700 and over, making them honor students. They are Jacob Arsenault, Edward Demontay Johnson, Elizabeth Danielle Lindig and James Clayton Pearce, all from Bainbridge; Kyle Douglas Kidd and Sierra Louise Proctor, both of Blakely; Josh Howard of Coleman and Jesse Schmidt of Colquitt.

The graduates by city are the following:

Attapulgus – James Colt Lowery.

Bainbridge – Jacob Arsenault, Latrone Lasha Bass, Amy Battensby, Taniya Bowens, Lamarsha Lavette Burden, Le’Keria Dunlap, Derronis RocRicko Feaster, Rashawn Demontae Ferguson, Alicia S. Garrett, Codie Gill, Wesley Gill, Roderick Greene, Ashley Harris, Kayla Jean Heisler, Edward Demontay Johnson, Summer Knight, Elizabeth Danielle Lindig, Tracey Levon Marshall, James Clayton Pearce, Letishea Deshawn Pearson, Lavante D. Perry, Jeanne Pauline Pierre, Markevion Smith, Teznisha Laverne Solomon, Jordan Nicole Stogner, Donaver Thomas III, Sherry Sanika Richardson Thomas, Jamila Tomlin, Benjamin Trotman, Shannon Veniszee, Pashaneta Ward, Bernard Lenward Wardrick Jr., Frederick West, Kendra Lois West, Alvin Carl Weston Jr., Sherry Michele Whitaker and Barbara Williams.

Blakely – Barbara A. Dyson, Katrina Eaford, Amanda Helena Fearrington, Alexis L. George, Kyle Douglas Kidd, Hunter Kirkland, Jessica Nichole Malinowski, Jay Walter McBroom and Sierra Louise Proctor.

Cairo – Jocelyn Patrice Addison and June Alexis Charleston.

Camilla – Jack Johnson III.

Climax – Ashley LaFaye Patterson.

Coleman – Josh Howard.

Colquitt – Rebekah Lee Adams, Rebecca Renee Norris and Jesse Schmidt.

Donalsonville – Jessica Danielle Chance, Shaj’Kasmine Tyhei Cunningham, LaShanda Glenn, Jonathan Ryan Godwin, La-Tonya Ann Henderson, Kenya Michelle Johnson, Kanesha Shantel Stovall, Kayla Wallace and Jeanne Willis.

Newton – Cathy P. Bentley.


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