After overcoming obstacles and hardships in their life and education, several students finally celebrated completing their high school careers thanks to the Warrick Education Center.

Although not all of the graduates attended the 24th annual WEC commencement on Wednesday, May 22, Warrick Education Center still celebrated in spirit, 35 graduates and 13 GED recipients, for the for the 2018-19 school year.

WEC's graduation was short and sweet, as Principal Drew Gerth kicked-off the the ceremony by pointing out the accomplishments of his students so proudly displayed during his speech - colored slips of paper plastered all over the walls, representing each credit the students had earned throughout the course of their year--263.

While another 148 credits were re-earned for students in the three area high schools through the credits recovery program.

"I will say, in the eight years I've been here," Gerth said, "this is the most we've ever earned."

It was clear Gerth was proud of his graduates, who were sitting in the front row of the school's main learning hub, also known as "the big room."

"This is where students have spent most of their time in usually what is a like a media center with tables when it's in school mode," Gerth said.

Student speaker and graduate, Ashley Ridgell, was one of the students who had spent many hours using the big room.

"I dropped out of North High School my senior year because I was pregnant with my sweet baby boy and I was sick constantly," she said. "I tried to go back to high school but, I was denied due to being considered a fifth year student."

So, she took a chance with the Warrick Education Center. After all, she only needed three more credits.

"My son needed a good role model," she said. "And, I needed to do it for myself."

Ridgell said she was grateful that WEC was able to help her out with not only her education, but providing daycare for her child.

"My experience was amazing here," she said. "I had teachers, family and friends all pushing me through."

Now, her plan is to become a nurse through Ivy Tech hands on program.

"My dream is to become a nurse," she said. "I plan to work for WorkOne to reach my goals and my dreams."

Ridgell said the main piece of advice she wanted to give future graduates is to never give up.

"You should always chase it," she said. "And remember, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel."

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