New GED program to be a ‘light’

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 24, 2002

NATCHEZ – Earning a traditional diploma might be a dim prospect for a small group of students at Natchez High School.

So district officials hope a new GED program might give those students a light at the end of the tunnel, said Superintendent Dr. Carl Davis.

The program might be the answer for older students who have only earned a few high school credits and are not likely to earn a traditional diploma by the age of 21.

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About 84 students, 24 less than 16-year-old and 60 more than 17-years-old fall into that category, Davis said.

Davis said he often described these students as having “slow starts” on their education but earning a GED might be the best choice for them if they work hard.

“I believe with the right effort from the student and (for him) to see the light at the end of the tunnel who knows what’s in their heart and how quickly they can catch up,” Davis said.

The Natchez-Adams School District used to offer a GED program at Central Alternative School but canceled the program to support a program at the district’s Braden School funded by Copiah-Lincoln Community College.

But this year the community college canceled the program to maintain its program at its Natchez campus.

That decision removed some of the flexibility from the GED program for students in the Natchez-Adams School District. This led the school board to discuss other options, Davis said.

“(The school board members) all agreed to a person that we need the program back for the kids as an alternative placement,” Davis said.

The program should start next semester but district officials are still deciding how they will fund the program, Davis said.

They determined it would cost $50,000 to hire four part-time retired teachers to teach the GED sessions. To lower the cost, they decided to look at high school enrollment and see if fluctuations in numbers will free up teachers to teach the GED.

District officials are already talking to parents whose children have been identified as potential candidates.

This often means a difficult decision for parents who want their children to earn a traditional diploma, Davis said.

“It may be painful at times for a parent or guardian to look at that,” Davis said.

But he encourages them to look at the big picture. Davis also says that the GED is getting harder and requires work to pass.

“You just can’t walk through the door and walk out of there with a GED,” Davis said. “You’ve got to work for it.”

In additional to the GED schoolwork, the district also wants to expose these students to different careers, job skills and information on fields available to them at Copiah-Lincoln Community College with or without a GED.

“The program is not just a GED program,” Davis said. “It’s a whole complete package that will tie them to the community college,” Davis said.

But students who are on track to earn the credits for traditional diplomas will not be allowed to graduate early with a GED, he said.

Natchez High School Principal Bobby Brown could not be reached for comment Tuesday.