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Beyond GED program helps young residents with the next steps

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By JEANETTE WOLFBERG

HUDSON–Some Columbia County youths who have not graduated from high school are getting GEDs (General Educational Development) and proceeding on to college and/or careers through the successful Beyond GED program, reported Adolfo Lopez, assistant director of Greater Hudson Promise Neighborhood (GHPN), which runs the program, in a conversation May 7.

Beyond GED is for 16-to-24-year-olds who have dropped out of high school and are not engaged in any other academic program. It enrolls its participants in a self-paced online GED preparation course, gives them laptops for keeps, provides them study space, offers them tutors and hot meals, and pays them $15 an hour for “showing up” and “consistently engaging.”

Adolfo Lopez. Photo by Jeanette Wolfberg

Since Beyond GED started in 2021, seven people have completed it, Mr Lopez reported. All seven got their GED, two are now in college, and five are now in the workforce. It now has 10 active participants ages 16 to 21.

Beyond GED gets its participants in a variety of ways, Mr Lopez said. Some self-refer. Some get recommended as they are dropping out of and disenrolling from high school, by their guidance counselor. Four of the current participants have come directly from high school.

The online GED program comes from KET, Kentucky Educational Television. It has courses in four subject areas: Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies. New enrollees take practice tests in each subject, find out what they need to work on most, and get aware of how much they already know.

Participants do most of their coursework on their laptops, in rooms Beyond GED provides. They can come at any time the GHPN offices are open, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sometimes they study in GHPN’s quarters in the Presbyterian Church on Warren Street. When GHPN’s after school and other programs need that space, Beyond GED participants go to a quiet satellite office across the street at 364 Warren Street. On Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon, an on-site tutor is available to help them in person.

Beyond GED participant Demetries Mackey working on his laptop. Photo by Jeanette Wolfberg

There are no time limits on how long the participants can take before taking the GED test. Beyond GED’s first students, in 2021, entered two to four years after dropping out of high school, and within six weeks all had passed their GEDs, Mr. Lopez recalled. The longest anyone has taken to pass their GED has been “a little over a year.” However, Mr. Lopez said, he was willing to see people take even three years. “We understand the students have their own timeline,” he said. Some have work, family, and other obligations.

Some students who go directly from high school to Beyond GED have gotten their GED before they would have graduated from high school with their class. “Traditional public school does not work with everyone,” said Mr. Lopez. Over the years, Columbia and Greene counties have had alternate high school programs, and currently, the Hudson City School District has its Bluehawk Academy. But some people need something different.

About a month before a participant takes the GED test, they get career development counseling to set them on a path for afterwards. On GED test day, GHPN gets the student to the test site. Fortunately one site is now in Columbia-Greene Community College. When students pass, GHPN celebrates with their family and friends.

Beyond GED has potential for expansion, said Mr. Lopez. If it gets more funding, he would like to handle more than 10 participants at a time, hire a full-time tutor for every day, and hire an additional staff person to help participants get not also into college but also through it.

Mr. Lopez said he has worked with GHPN about eight years. At age 17, after graduating from high school, he served six years of a seven year prison sentence. In prison, he took college courses, and his last course was in social work, taught by Joan Hunt, executive director of GHPN. Mr. Lopez was released in 2016 and has lived in Hudson since 2019.

C-GCC launches new GED testing site

GREENPORT—Columbia-Greene Community College (C-GCC) has announced the opening of a new GED testing site located within the Professional Academic Center (PAC) on campus. Serving as the sole GED testing site between Albany and Poughkeepsie, the site will expand access to essential educational resources for Columbia and Greene County residents and beyond.

With the unveiling of this testing site, individuals seeking to obtain their GED certificate will now have a conveniently located facility, eliminating the need for extensive travel. The C-GCC GED testing site offers a local solution for residents pursuing further education and career advancement opportunities.

“Establishing the GED testing site reinforces the college’s commitment to serving the educational needs of the community,” explains Carlee Drummer, president of C-GCC, in a press release. “Offering a convenient and accessible location for individuals to earn the GED certificate empowers residents to unlock pathways to higher education and career success.”

Opening the GED testing site at Columbia-Greene advances the college’s mission to bridge educational gaps and promote lifelong learning within the region. Collaborating with Columbia-Greene Workforce New York, the college streamlines the process for individuals seeking to enhance their academic credentials and expand employment opportunities.

“For many individuals, obtaining a GED certificate represents a crucial step towards achieving their academic and professional goals,” said Amanda Karch, executive director of Columbia-Greene Workforce, also in the release. “Opening this new testing site provides the necessary support and resources to help individuals succeed in their educational pursuits.”

To schedule a GED test or obtain more information about the testing site, contact Columbia-Greene Workforce at 518 697-6510.

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