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To some, graduation means completion of a degree or diploma after days and nights of studying. To others, the word simply means to prevail or overcome an obstacle.
Melissa Grimes spent her years in school with learning disabilities that caused her to be in special education classes. After becoming ill, Grimes said her mother pulled her out of public school.
At 18, Grimes gave birth to a set of twins who ultimately altered her focus from school to family.
“I kind of put everything on the back burner,” she said.
After having her third child, Grimes went back to school, aiming for a GED, but stopped again. When her fourth son arrived and she learned he had autism, she decided to finish school once and for all.
Grimes’ family watched her accept her GED on Friday night at Central Hardin High School, along with 30 other proud graduates.
“I wanted to be able to further my education and be able to provide things for (my youngest son) medically that he needs,” she said. “That and to make my father proud, who is no longer with us.”
Already enrolled at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College, Grimes, now 32, begins her second semester this fall studying medical information technology. Grimes expects to have her associate degree in 2016.
Two hundred individuals earned a GED through the Hardin County Adult Education Center in 2014.
Hardin County High School, consisting of students from Brown Street and Mulberry Helm Alternative Education Centers, had 180 graduates receive diplomas Friday.
Among those graduates was Ferrante Salley, who that night became the first person in his family to complete high school.
“I’m the first of all my cousins to graduate,” Salley said. “They all said I couldn’t do it.”
Now at 18, Salley plans to join the U.S. Army in November.
Parents equally were joyful for their graduates.
“I’m overwhelmed by my son’s graduation,” said Ferrante Salley Sr. “It’s a beautiful moment.”
Kara Thompson said her daughter, Csiaza Jones, went from regularly making Cs and Ds to becoming an honor-roll student.
Jones, 17, went to North Hardin High School before being transferred to Brown Street when she was a sophomore. Thompson said her daughter had gotten into fights and had several tardies on her record prior that point.
“She turned it completely around,” Thompson said.
Jones plans to attend cosmetology school in August.
As each of the graduates walked across the stage, the audience heard their story on why they decided to get their diploma. Some said they did it because they wanted a successful future for themselves or their family. Others simply wanted to prove they could do it.
“You are surrounded tonight by many people that love you,” said Hardin County Schools Superintendent Nannette Johnston. “As you transition to the next chapter of your life, I challenge you to keep going.”
Anna Taylor can be reached at 270-505-1747 or email@example.com.