I walked into Walmart the other day and had to chuckle because, in mid-July, the retailer already had its “Back to School” promotional campaign on full display. I laughed because my son’s summer break began just over three weeks ago.
I suppose I need to temper my amusement because Goodwill of Greater Washington will be posting its Back to School signage within the next two weeks as well.
While students of all ages will soon be getting ready to matriculate through another school year, rekindle friendships with their classmates, and begin whining again about all the homework; another school – a very unique school – is about to open its doors for the first time to an entirely different population of students.
The Goodwill Excel Center Adult Charter High School will be the first of its kind in the District of Columbia, awarding high school diplomas and industry recognized certifications rather than a GED. The school is open to adult DC residents of all ages.
As of the date of publication of this blog post, The Excel Center had more than 1,400 applicants for the first 325 available seats. We have students enrolled who are still teenagers, some who are senior citizens, and a slew of age groups and generations in between.
It’s an exciting proposition, but one that I’m certain will make every Excel Center student just a bit more nervous on the first day of classes than a typical student who has been going to school for as long as they can remember.
On Saturday, July 9th, The Washington Post published an article on The Goodwill Excel Center which was informative and complimentary. The writer, Perry Stein, did an excellent job providing an overview of the need for a school like The Excel Center and how it will impact our community.
While the story itself was great for the visibility and credibility of the school, what was even more heartening were some of the emails and comments we received from the general public in response to the article.
One principal of another, more traditional charter high school was so excited about The Goodwill Excel Center and what it means to the DC community she asked if she could bring her entire student body to The Excel Center for some community service projects. She wants to demonstrate to her students the importance of an education and have them meet adults who can provide a first-hand perspective on why children should remain in school.
We also received generous emails from people asking if they could volunteer and help tutor our students.
However, the most impassioned response was from a mother of three who dropped out of high school in the 12th grade but now wants to complete her education in order to “make her kids proud of her”. She hopes to become a better role model for her children, who she is demanding complete high school, by first completing high school herself. Her only request from us was to “help her accomplish her goal”.
We are learning there are a variety of motives for the adult students enrolled in The Goodwill Excel Center. Some left school because they wanted to, some because they had to, and others because they experienced unique challenges in a traditional high school environment.
Now all of them have made the difficult but wise choice to change the direction of their lives and commit to completing their education. How can you not support that decision?
To all of the Goodwill Excel Center students and students of all kinds…