PHILADELPHIA – Nearly 200 adult learners who accomplished personal milestones by completing their high school equivalency certifications were honored today during a festive graduation ceremony at the Dell Music Center.
The new graduates heard inspirational remarks from Mayor Jim Kenney, WDAS-FM host Patty Jackson, and two graduating adult learners, Antoinette Reynolds (Northeast Learning Center) and David Logan (Beyond Literacy).
In his comments, the Mayor praised the graduates for their tenacity in completing their degrees amid the pandemic and other obstacles. “Despite all those many challenges, you stand here today as success stories,” said the Mayor. “And I am so pleased to see how many of your family and friends have joined you here to be part of this celebration. I am sure they are as proud of you as I am. Philadelphia is proud of you.”
The last such citywide graduation was pre-COVID, so this year’s event included three years of graduates (2020, 2021, and 2022). Participating in the ceremony were upwards of 200 adult learners who completed a wide range of citywide programs and who have received their Commonwealth Secondary School Diplomas.
“I am so very proud of the nearly 200 hundred Philadelphians whose success we honor today,” said WDAS host Patty Jackson, who delivered a commencement address. “They have overcome personal challenges and the difficulties posed by the pandemic to pursue their dreams. By doing so, they embody the very best of Philadelphia. It was a tremendous honor to be part of this important and moving celebration.”
Organizations with graduates taking part in the ceremony were JEVS Human Services, Congreso de Latinos Unidos, Temple’s Workforce Education and Lifelong Learning Program (Temple WELL), Northeast Learning Center, Penn Foster, The Garces Foundation, Beyond Literacy, and the Aquinas Community Center.
David Logan, one of the two adult learners offering a commencement address, completed Beyond Literacy’s Adult Education Program he completed the Pre-Apprenticeship Program in six months, and achieved his goal of obtaining his High School Equivalency. David offered this advice: “Things like this are possible. And it’s closer than you think. All you have to do is reach out and grab it. It’s like I told my classmates: the challenges we face every day are guaranteed; the easiest and most unexpected thing we can do for ourselves is fight back with an ambitious goal and a dream.” David now has a full-time job and is working towards skilled training in the field of computer-controlled machine operations.
Presenting celebratory certificates to the graduates was Vanessa Garrett Harley, Deputy Mayor for the Office of Children and Families. Garrett Harley noted that this year, for the first time, prospective adult learners who want to enroll in such programs can get information and advice by calling a single phone number, 1-833-750-5627.
“If you dream of continuing your education, now is the time – just call this number. You will be able to discuss options with advisors and be connected to classes that fit their individual needs,” the Deputy Mayor said. “We are confident this will better connect thousands of Philadelphia’s adult learners to education, digital skills training, and a path to job readiness. And it means that next year and every year, we’ll have more graduates to come up on this stage, and more proud family and friends in attendance to cheer them on!”
Photos from today’s ceremony are available on request. More information for prospective adult learners can be found at phila.gov/next-level.
Under the Office of Children and Families (OCF), Adult Education is focused on building a coherent, equitable, quality adult education system that can be sustained for generations to come. Adult education is fundamental for Philadelphians to achieve their individual potential, which in turn creates economic growth, reduces inequality, and fosters social inclusion.
Adult Education direct service agencies provide an array of programs that include Adult Basic Education, English for Speakers of Other Languages, High School Equivalency Preparation, Digital Literacy through Northstar, and Civic Education classes. The Office of Children and Families’ Adult Education division helps connect learners to the classes they need to achieve their personal goals, many of which include improving their job readiness, learning English, and supporting their child’s education. Residents can call 1-833-750-5627 to get connected to adult education and workforce resources.
The Commonwealth Secondary School Diplomas is a high school equivalency credential available to Pennsylvania residents who do not possess a high school diploma and who have met criteria in the Pennsylvania Code. The CSSD may be achieved by passing the GED® or HiSET® tests, or by completing the 30 College Credit Option.