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BCSD Adult Education graduates makes the best of second chance

Published Thursday, June 21, 2018

2018 Adult Education Graduation photo

BCSD Adult Education graduate Rayana Meadows speaks at the 2018 commencement ceremony held at Cane Bay High School. (BCSD photo) MORE PHOTOS

“Thankful” - As they stood in a hall outside the auditorium of Cane Bay High School, some were nervous and others wore smiles accentuated by bright light beaming through windows and bouncing off polished floors. They all could be heard speaking about why they were “thankful.”

Those making up the group of graduates, were all connected by what they had in common. In most cases it wasn’t a football title, memories shared of senior prom or triumphant academic performances.

Many shared hearts tormented by adversity, minds fueled by opportunity to readjust and bodies warmed by the gratification of knowing they would soon mark a milestone in life that they thought, at least once, would never be possible.

Wednesday evening brought a night of celebrating second chances, and in some cases, last chances for those recognized at the commencement ceremony of Berkeley County School District’s Adult Education Class of 2018.

Such was the story of Shantrell Heyward who described the evening as a “blessing.” I really didn’t think I was going to make it this far,” she said.

Shantrell dropped out at Berkeley High School in February of this year. She admitted keeping focus in the classroom was a struggle. She also admitted her behavior wasn’t always the best, and had she not dropped out, she would have likely been expelled. She had about given up when BHS Principal Steven Steele pointed her in the direction of the adult education program.

“They actually wanted to see me do good,” she said. “They said, ‘you got the mindset.’ So, I did it.”

Feelings of depression, anger and conflict are swapped for happiness and feelings of accomplishment as she plans to enter the Job Corps program and learn a trade to make a career.

“The message to send is that these students gave themselves another chance,” said BCSD Director of Adult and Community Education Dr. Lillie Caldwell. “Because they have done that, they can take the next great step towards a successful future.”

For graduate Cesar Serban, the evening was about celebrating what some believed he would never do. He also got into trouble in school and dropped out several years ago as a sophomore. He got into so much trouble that he and his father decided it might be best for him to just get a fulltime job.

“I thought school wasn’t for me, but I quickly learned I needed to further my education for any chance at a better job,” Cesar said.

A friend at church put him in touch with Dr. Monica Dixon-Houston at the Fishburne Educational Center, and he began the program. Now, he plans to pursue an associate degree in electrical technology.

“This is the biggest accomplishment in my life,” Cesar said.

The student speaker for the night was 26-year-old graduate Rayana Meadows. As a mother of three she realized the importance of obtaining a diploma to set an example for her children. She spoke with emotion – tears and laughter – as she addressed the graduates and their supporters.

“I haven’t always made the best decisions,” she said. “…How can I preach to my son about the importance of an education when I don’t have one myself. How can I stay on him about what’s expected of him when I am not happy with my own life.”

Rayana dedicated herself, studied hard and passed every test she took. She proudly shared her story with those at the ceremony, and after, she was met with tears and hugs from Dr. Caldwell and Dr. Dixon-Houston.  

“Life has gotten into the way of many of these individuals,” Dr. Dixon-Houston said. “It has been an absolute struggle. They had to work very hard to be here, they wanted to be here. They understand the importance of education and that it is the great equalizer from disparities of life.”

“…It makes me be proud to be an educator.”




Brian Troutman