By Kris Szovati, Teacher
California State Prison, Corcoran

Proud students. Smiling, tearful parents. Tight hugs and hearty handshakes. This is the usual scene at any graduation ceremony but at Visions Adult School inside California State Prison, Corcoran (COR), this is a truly special occasion.

Visions Adult School staff created a professional video titled “Build Your Future” to promote its educational programs. It features scenes from the graduation ceremonies held June 12-14 that celebrated the achievements of 90 inmate students who earned a high school equivalency certificate, high school diploma, or career technical education completion. Parents, children and other close family members were in attendance. Inmate teacher aides and literacy tutors were also honored at the ceremonies for their contribution to the school and its students.

The purpose of the video was to inspire other inmates to follow the example of those shown in the video to join educational programs and achieve their own dreams. With the traditional Pomp and Circumstance playing as a background, the video begins with emotional inmate students dressed in black graduation caps and gowns. These are scenes from the graduation ceremony held in the visiting room for COR’s facility 3B on June 13. Toward the end of the video, inspirational words in capital letters are superimposed on the video:  ACHIEVEMENT, PRIDE, RESPECT, FAMILY, EMPLOYMENT. Then the viewer is invited to sign up for educational classes.

The emotional ending to the video shows the young son of one of the inmate graduates trying on his father’s graduation cap. The child looks directly into the camera and smiles. This powerful conclusion invites the inmates to consider the influence that their decision to get an education has upon their children and other loved ones.

The video was shot and produced by Hugh Neely, Television Specialist.

“Mr. Neely has proven to be a tremendous asset to Visions Adult School.  His work ethic and creativity are second-to-none,” said school Principal Randy Clem.

The video also features the logo adopted by Visions Adult School. It was created by Dr. Troy Tenhet, Academic Instructor. The Valiants mascot encourages inmates to assume the characteristics of courage and determination as they seek success.

The video is currently playing four times per day over institutional television on the movie channel in between movies.

“Visions Adult School is a school where innovative ideas and teamwork are put into play to create a successful environment for learning,” said Principal Clem.