In 2013, the Ardmore Literacy Leadership program came to Ardmore to help citizens get a second chance at life.
On Thursday, gathered in the First United Methodist Church Ardmore Colvert Ministry Center, 55 adults and teenagers crossed the stage, earning diplomas and certificates ranging from GED’s to technology skills.
President of Ardmore Literacy Leadership Leslie Kutz has been with the program for the past five years, and has seen how programs like Ardmore Literacy Leadership has helped citizens achieve their education goals.
“From a very basic level, you have job opportunities that aren’t even open to adults unless they have their high school equivalency or their high school diploma,” Kutz said. “It allows them to go onto post secondary education programs like SOTC in our case or the University Center, local universities or colleges. The most far reaching benefit when one of these adults finishes their high school equivalency is when their kids see them. When their kids have the opportunity to emulate them, placing a value on their education.”
Kutz said area high schools have a dropout rate average of about 17 percent, with students dropping out for different reasons. The A.L.L. helps those who want a second chance at furthering their education.
Two of the students in attendance on Thursday night were Rebekah Jones and Kamryn Goyer.
Goyer graduated from the literacy center, while Jones graduated from Ardmore Family Literacy.
Both had different paths in life that led them to the A.L.L. program, with Jones struggling to enroll in school after moving to South Dakota before returning to Southern Oklahoma and Goyer just finding the basic classroom setting was not beneficial to her needs. Both girls are happy programs like the A.L.L. are here to help.
“It means everything to me. A typical high school setting wasn’t working for me,” Goyer said. “I was thrown into this situation that wasn’t healthy, and I was independent and motivated. A different path was right for me.”
Goyer will be advancing to a trade school following graduation, she hopes Southern Tech, where she wants to train to become an electrician.
Jones plans to attend Murray State College and to major in business.
“It is very important to me that I was able to get my education,” Jones said. “It means the world to me, I have family here that told me I could not do this and I am showing I can do this.”
Jones was just the second person to graduate from the program in just one month.
President of the University Center of Southern Oklahoma Peggy Maher was in attendance for the graduates as the key note speaker. Maher has helped out with the program in the past as a substitute teacher in the English program.
Now as the speaker and seeing the hard work the students have put in, Maher is excited for what their future holds.
“In addition to the help it gives the individuals to move on to the next level, to give them another tool in their tool chest to achieve what else they want, it helps the community,” Maher said. “They add to our community, whatever they achieve is something our community achieves. I think it really helps all of us.”