For the Recorder
The Excel Center, the first public charter school in Indiana to provide adults an opportunity to earn a high school diploma and begin post-secondary education tuition-free, recently celebrated its students’ accomplishments during its largest graduation class to date.
The Indianapolis Metropolitan High School staff and the administration of Goodwill Education Initiatives Inc. (GEI), the not-for-profit charter school operator created by Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana Inc., along with the organization’s board of directors, celebrated the hard work and future plans of 88 graduates.
“It has been exciting to watch the transformation of our students. Most come focused on earning their diploma but they leave with new career goals and plans to go on to college,” said Scott Bess, chief operating officer of Goodwill Education Initiatives. “Our students also feel like they become better role models for their children and families, so this really helps break a cycle.”
The ultimate goal of the school is for students to develop career paths that offer better-than-average employment and growth opportunities. The Excel Center pays tuition costs for students to take the first steps toward earning industry-recognized certificates or undergraduate degrees at Ivy Tech Community College and IUPUI.
Dr. Gina DelSanto, senior associate commissioner and chief of staff for the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, was the featured speaker for the ceremony. DelSanto, who serves as vice chair on the GEI board of directors, told students why The Excel Center and their success after graduation is important for the state of Indiana.
“All of our students have a unique story and provide us with continuous learning experiences. We are so happy to celebrate all that they have worked hard for in the last couple of years and for some of our students in the last few months,” said Betsy Delgado, managing director, The Excel Center. “We learn from them, and they encourage us to expand so that we may offer this opportunity to more adults around the state.”
Aaron Viehe, a graduate speaker, distinguished himself from the first day he walked in. He has shared many gifts with staff, and often during breaks and during celebrations would play the guitar and sing.
Viehe was the top academic performer at the Decatur location. He earned a 4.0 GPA throughout his studies and plans to attend Ivy Tech and transfer to IUPUI to major in business.
“When I started, I was just getting my diploma to do what I would call “grunt work” because that was all I thought I was capable of doing. Now I have plans and I am excited about going to college,” said Viehe.
The Excel Center provides licensed teachers and online support; a free drop-in center for child care; and creates a flexible environment that gives each student a realistic path for their educational success and career.
The school is open for extended hours – including nights and weekends – and operates year-round to allow students to learn at their own pace and complete their educational requirements.
Classes in Indianapolis began this week. Anyone interested in applying can apply online at excelcenter.org or call (317) 524-3925 or 1-888-959-9062 (toll free).