Clinton County Adult Education graduated its classes of 2019-20 during Thursday evening’s ceremony at 51 West Event Center in downtown Frankfort.

Family and friends of the five who chose to receive their High School Equivalency (HSE) diplomas at the ceremony – out of 21 total graduates – watched as Luke Chandler, May’Ce Mullinax, Keyshla Perkins, Elisabeth Hemmeter and Amanda Wallsmith were recognized for their accomplishment.

Earning their HSE diplomas but not choosing to attend were Gerold Brandenburg, Frankie McQueen, Steven Casada, Aric Meibeyer, Randy Chester, Ryan Mullinax, Josh Cox, Tarrence Edwards, Jayden Stockberger, Brittany Stotts, Luis Hernandez, Bethany Hussey, Dakota Wilson, Lee Long, Lyle Youngs III and Brie Mathews.

Frankfort Mayor Judy Sheets was the guest speaker at the ceremony.

“I am very honored to be asked to speak at this program,” Mayor Sheets said. “I am so proud of these individuals who have decided to take that step and to fulfill probably a dream that they have had for a while and just didn’t know when they were going to be able to do this. And I am so proud of them. I think it is a difficult thing. They stepped up to the challenge, and they succeeded. It is a great program.”

Sheets said she was pleasantly surprised to be invited to speak at the event.

“I was surprised, but I was happy, too, because I am all about this,” she said. “I love to see people succeed in their life and move forward with things that maybe would not have happened for them otherwise.”

HSE educator Abbie Sheets welcomed the guests and introduced Mayor Sheets.

“This is one of the biggest rewards I have is doing this ceremony,” Martin said. “So many people were not able to do this in high school. It means a lot, not only them but to also their family. So, it is great that we all get to be involved, especially with COVID. That did throw some wrenches into our plan. However, we were able to overcome it and still have four graduates graduate during the whole pandemic. It wasn’t the course that we necessarily wanted to go on, but we had to go and were still able to persevere.

“This has been a great group of students,” Martin added. “We take anybody from the age of 17 to... my oldest graduate has been in their 60s. It is such a great program just because everybody is allowed to come. Adult education is my passion, and I absolutely love it.”

Wallsmith, a 35-year-old mother and Frankfort resident, was glad she attended the ceremony in order to celebrate her accomplishment with her family.

“It is actually a huge accomplishment,” Wallsmith said. “I struggled for years of just failure. And now that I did it – so many emotions right now. I am proud, I am glad. It is something that I missed out from graduating from high school.”

Wallsmith said she had her motivations for going after her HSE.

“For one, to get a good job,” she said. “And, for two, to show my kids that you can achieve and overcome any obstacle in life. So that is why I set out to do it – just to prove to myself and my family that I can do it. And it was rough at the beginning, but I did it, and I showed them that you can overcome fear and failure and just get back up and keep going.”

Martin said that those interested in earning their HSE register with her and go through what is typically a 6-8 week program.

“That is how long it takes to do some studying and do some review on the five subjects that they have to test on,” she said. “And then they will go and take their test. We have it there at The Learning Network (1111 S. Jackson Street in Frankfort). We have somebody come from Lafayette to administer their test, and it takes about a week to 10 days to get their results. And we do this once a year to celebrate all of their accomplishments throughout the year.”

Martin welcomed those interested in going through the program to contact Clinton County Adult Education.

“We do have a Facebook page, and I post things on that frequently,” she said. “We are not just about education. We also like to help you pursue whatever career you might want to do after you get your HSE also. So, I am constantly posting jobs on the Facebook page. They can message me through Facebook or they can give us a call at The Learning Network (659-6380 or 296-3511).”