On August 30th, several family members, friends, and school district personnel gathered at the Anderson Community Education building for the celebration of two very special people: Mileena Brown and Destiny Walker, who received their high school diplomas.
It was a dream that the two of them at one point in their lives didn’t see in their futures.
In fact, due to circumstances in their lives at the time they attended high school, they had both made the decision to drop out.
However, recent legislation in Kentucky, in the form of Senate Bill 63, allowed the dream they once thought was out of the picture to become possible again.
Senate Bill 63 allows any school district in Kentucky to provide a virtual high school completion program for individuals who meet specific criteria.
The individual must be at least 21-years-old, must have previously dropped out of high school, and must have earned at least sixteen credit hours toward a high school diploma before dropping out.
While the local school district may charge a reasonable tuition to students seeking the virtual high school completion, here in Anderson County, students are charged only $100 that is refunded to them at the completion of the program as an incentive. Just because there is an incentive, though, does not mean that the program doesn’t require hard work and dedication.
Students enrolled in the virtual program, just as the students attending in person at Anderson County High School, must complete the 26 credit hours required for graduation. They are enrolled in the APEX Academy and work under the direction of district staff. It is hard work, but the celebratory pay off of receiving a diploma, for the two recent graduates, was evident on their faces.
Mileena Brown stated that, by virtue of this program, she was able to focus on her education again and finally finish. Her future plans involve training to become a massage therapist and opening her own clinic in Lawrenceburg. She now clearly sees her future path and she likes what she sees.
When asked what motivated her to enroll in the program, she replied, “My mom is my biggest inspiration. She has been pushing me since day one and was happy to help at every turn.”
It was Destiny Walker’s family as well who served as her inspiration to earn her diploma. Surrounded by her smiling children, Cheyanna, Zachary, Evan, and Ryleigh, who were celebrating their mom’s achievement and enjoying the cake and ice-cream, Walker revealed that she was the first in her family to receive a high school diploma. She stated, “My kids have been my motivation. I want to set a good example for them. I’m breaking family tradition in a positive way.” Now that she has her diploma, she is beginning her EMT and paramedic training, with plans to eventually become an RN.
Seeing their growth while completing the program and knowing their future visions now that they have their diplomas is something that makes ACE Director Elizabeth Swartz feel extremely proud of Walker and Brown for achieving. “We at ACE are so proud of these two exceptional young ladies. To have a family, or to be out of high school more than three years and come back and obtain your high school diploma is a massive accomplishment. The dedication and discipline needed to accomplish this is monumental. I couldn’t be more proud of Destiny and Mileena. I encourage anyone who is interested in the HB 63 program to reach out; we are here to help you accomplish your goals!” said Swartz.
Not only are Mileena Brown and Destiny Walker setting an example for others who might be interested in enrolling in the program, but they are also an inspiration to us all, showing us that goals once thought out of reach are still attainable when backed by the right support and a whole heap of personal dedication.
If you yourself are interested in the program, you can enroll by visiting the following website:
https://www.anderson.k12.ky.us/OnlineEnrollment.aspx or calling Elizabeth Swartz at Anderson Community Education (502-604-1553).