Contributed Photo: Makella Lynn Barlow proudly displays her High School Equivalency (GED Pathway) Diploma. Pictured are, front, from left, Rowena Dosela, BGEC head teacher, Makella Lynn Barlow, graduate, and Michelle Barlow, the graduate’s sister; back, from left, Tanya Gantt, BGEC teacher, Myron Moses, SCAJRDC Executive Director, Trent Lyon, Gila County Associate Superintendent and BGEC Principal, Captain O’Brien Goseyun, SCAJRDC Adult Corrections Manager, Rachael Kenton, Apache College Registrar, and Mike Kim, Apache College faculty member.
SAN CARLOS – The Biyaagozhoo Education Center (BGEC) concluded the first quarter of the year 2023 with the outstanding achievements of their students in the Adult Education Program who graduated with a High School Equivalency (GED Pathway) diploma on March 22. The GED graduates, namely Makella Lynn Barlow, Lindsey Hopkins, and Adrian Stevens were recognized in a formal graduation ceremony held at the San Carlos Adult / Juvenile Rehabilitation and Detention Center (SCAJRDC) in San Carlos, Arizona.
Barlow, Hopkins, and Stevens were thoroughly reviewed for five required GED tests which were in civics, reasoning through language arts, social studies, science, and mathematical reasoning. Their teachers, Mrs. Rowena Dosela and Ms. Tanya Gantt, did not only teach them the skills they needed to pass the tests, but they also prepared them for college and career readiness through a variety of learning resources, which included the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE) 11 / 12 and Essential Education learning program, among others. More importantly, their teachers delivered direct and online instruction, especially in areas for the next focus, as outlined in their students’ individual TABE learning profiles and GED study guides.
Barlow recalled, “My interest in different subjects eventually began to change, and before I knew it, I was starting to look forward to going to class to learn something new.” Further, she expressed her gratitude to the detention facility, her school, her family, and God, for helping her succeed in her education goal. Likewise, Hopkins thanked his teachers and classmates as well as the detention center and school administrators for the Adult Education Program provided within the detention facility. He shared, “I plan to get back to work upon my release, to enroll in classes that will further my education, and to keep pushing forward in order to be successful in life.”
The graduation ceremony kicked off with a processional of graduates, an invocation led by one of the adult students, the National Anthem in Apache, and the Pledge of Allegiance. This was followed by welcome and inspirational messages from Mr. Myron Moses, SCAJRDC Executive Director; Captain O’Brien Goseyun, Adult Corrections Manager; Mr. Trent Lyon, Gila County Associate Superintendent, and BGEC Principal; Ms. Tanya Gantt, Adult Education Instructor; and Captain Antoinette Henry, SCAJRDC Juvenile Corrections Manager.
The first guest speaker was Mrs. Rachael Kenton, Apache College Registrar and a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe. She shared how she overcame adversities while growing up on the reservation and how she succeeded in obtaining a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University (ASU) and a master’s degree from Northern Arizona University (NAU). She challenged the graduates to make better choices and pursue higher education.
The second guest speaker was Mr. Mike Kim, Apache College Faculty Member. He invited the graduates to apply for jobs through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Program once they re-enter the community. He described the different work opportunities that are available on the reservation and the college courses they could take at Apache College.
After the special messages from the detention center and school staff as well as guest speakers, the graduates received their HSE / GED diplomas and moved their tassels. Barlow and Hopkins delivered their graduation speeches, too.
The graduation ceremony would not be complete without the special performances of students from the Adult Education Program. Barlow, her classmates, and teachers did a sign language of the song “The Climb,” which was popularized by Miley Cyrus in the movie “Hannah Montana.” The song teaches that life is not just about considering what you achieve, but also about the journey you have made to get to where you should be and appreciate what you have been through along the way. Achieving your dream is like climbing a mountain and reaching its summit.
The male students led by Hopkins regaled the audience with their energetic Zumba dance to the beat of the song titled “Dreamers” by Jungkook, one of the Bangtan Boys (BTS) from Korea, and Fahad Al-Kubaisi, a Qatari singer. “Dreamers” is a part of the promotional album for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The song promotes positive thinking and the willpower to succeed.
The graduation ceremony ended with a benediction by one of the adult students. Overall, the ceremony was inspiring and heartwarming, Mrs. Dosela, BGEC Head Teacher, emceed the event and acknowledged everyone’s presence and participation in the special occasion.