CRI recognizes largest Adult Renewal Academy graduating class yet!
Students reach goals, set sights on a bright future
For release: May 23, 2012
Many obstacles stood in her way when Phyellisha Davis started working on her GED several years ago. Any one of them could have stopped her from reaching her goal, but like many students in the Adult Renewal Academy, she would not be denied.
“When I first started here, I did not know anything about it. But I realized I needed to finish school. I knew that if I did not, I would get nothing out of life and I wanted to make myself a better person,” she said.
“Being with Community Renewal has helped me so much. If it was not for my teachers, I would not have made it.”
Phyellisha will never forget the day she came home and found a large envelope on her bed with her GED test results.
“I screamed and I hollered. And I shed a couple tears. I was happy,” she said. Her dream now is to go on to college and become a nurse.
“You don’t know how good it feels to have your diploma at the age of 36. I’m happy! You don’t know how happy and proud I am!”
This spring, Community Renewal recognized more than 20 students graduating from the Adult Renewal Academy. They were honored in a ceremony at Noel Memorial United Methodist Church, which hosts one of the largest ARA classes in the Shreveport-Bossier City area. Other classes meet in neighborhood Friendship Houses. Classes in a variety of subjects are taught by certified instructors to help students of all ages broaden their education and earn their GED.
Nearly 50 students have now earned their GED through the academy. ARA Coordinator Gloria Millender said the outreach becomes more gratifying with each new class.
“This has been the most amazing year ever. We have had more students dedicated to reaching their goal and more students who have reached their goal,” she said.
“It gets more and more rewarding each year. We see more and more lives changed. They are going off to college and trade school and business and that is so rewarding.”
Louis Johnson, chief of training, Shreveport Fire Department, spoke to the graduating students on the topic “Education to the Rescue” and commended them for taking the initiative and making the sacrifice to help themselves.
“I know that you are proud of your work and your accomplishments and you should be. I know that not everyone is aware of the things you have had to go through in order to make it to this point,” he said.
“President Nelson Mandela said that education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world. Education not only opens your mind; it expands it.”
Johnson encouraged the graduates to keep learning.
“Learn everything you can, anytime you can, from anyone you can. The beautiful thing about education is that no one can take it away from you,” he said.
“I challenge you to use the things you have learned and allow those things to change you for the better. Let it motivate you to think for yourself. Though graduation ends tonight, your education will happen over a lifetime.”
They are better prepared for the future, he said, because of their involvement with the Adult Renewal Academy.
“You are trained and you are ready to make a difference. Imagine what you want in life and then live the life you have imagined. Your dreams can come true if you have the courage to pursue them,” he said.
“Dare to soar and dare to do your best. Be like a postage stamp: Even when you are licked, stick to it and stay right there until you get where you are going.”
Shana Fisher attended classes at a Bossier City Friendship House.
“This is a milestone in my life. The people there went above and beyond to help us. It was way more than what I expected. They gave me the support and encouragement I needed to go on and do more,” she said.
“When I got my GED, I was crying and I jumped up and clicked my heels and called everyone I know.”
Graduate Tomeshia Yearling, was only in the ARA for a short time period, but she said that time made a tremendous difference in her life.
“They are so patient and they make you want to come and say you can do it. They give you more confidence. Now I am 27 and I felt like I did not know anything, and they built my confidence,” she said.
“When I got my test scores, I was really overjoyed and I screamed a little. I had waited a long time for this and I was so happy. I am excited about my future. Every time I think about it, I get this bubbly feeling.”