By Marshall Denning, A.A., Public Information Officer, Kern Valley State Prison
Kern Valley State Prison inmates donned various colored caps and gowns to mark the prison’s first graduation.
The first commencement ceremony in August honored 121 graduates before a welcome assembly of family, friends, custody staff and prison educators.
The graduation ceremonies all started with the pledge of allegiance led by the Academic Vice Principal Randy Clem and the National Anthem sung by Krystal Mascarinas.
“Rehabilitation through Education” was the adopted theme with a quote by Arie Pencovici documented on the Program Brochures which read, “Graduation is only a concept. In real life, every day you graduate. Graduation is a process that goes on until the last day of your life. If you can grasp that, you’ll make a difference.”
Principal Stacey Hoffman was one of the keynote speakers. He encouraged the graduates not to think of a GED as a second class accomplishment.
He said many people, some of them famous, have received their GEDs such as actor/comedian Bill Cosby, actor Nicholas Cage, boxer Oscar De La Hoya, Wendy’s restaurant founder Dave Thomas and the Rapper 50 cent, who even got his GED while in jail.
One of the graduates received an Associate of Arts Degree, 12 graduated from the Office Services program, 14 graduated from the automotive program and 90 graduates earned their GED.
Many staff and students were given the opportunity to speak to encourage a positive rehabilitative attitude through the various academic and career technical educational opportunities present within the institutions of the CDCR.