By Arnold Carlos, Teacher
California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison at Corcoran

Friday, June 12, was a day of celebration on Delta yard at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison at Corcoran.

There were 74 inmates who had passed the GED test or had completed their high school education participating in a graduation ceremony in front of friends, family and staff.  The graduating class was so large that it had to be split into two sessions to accommodate all of the participants and their guests.  After the ceremony, which was held in the Delta yard visiting area, the graduates shared cake and punch and visited with their guests.

Staff member John Bolland started the ceremony by leading the flag salute and singing the national anthem.  He then offered an invocation and blessing.  Principal Wayne Tilley then welcomed all of the visitors and introduced the attending staff.

Associate Superintendent of Education Jennifer Wynn urged the new graduates to continue pursuing their education.

“Don’t let this be the end,” she said.  “Make this the beginning of a new chapter in your education.  Take some college classes and work toward your degree.”

Since there were two graduation sessions, it was decided there would be two valedictorians, one for the high school graduates, and one for those who had passed the GED exam.

In the morning session, valedictorian Trevor spoke about how he had promised he would get his GED while he was in prison, and he was proud he had fulfilled his goal.

In the afternoon section, valedictorian Elder talked about how the inmates should be proud of their accomplishments, and that they should continue to strive to better themselves. Privately, many of the inmates said that they would use this experience to encourage their children to stay in school.

Tulare Lake Adult School at SATF State Prison is not only the largest adult school in the CDCR system, it is also the largest adult school in the state. There are 879 inmates enrolled in academic education classes, 1,522 in voluntary education and 367 in career technical education classes for a total of 2,768 students on seven separate yards at SATF.

SATF holds seven graduation ceremonies per year, one on each yard, and a few are so big they have to be split into two separate events. When graduations conclude in September, Tulare Lake Adult School expects to hand out over 300 GEDs and high school diplomas for the 2014-2015 academic year.