To ensure COVID-19 health guidelines were followed, Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP) held physically distant graduations.
Even though their families were unable to witness the event, the students were still celebrated by Warden Matthew Atchley, Chief Deputy Warden Tristan Lemon, the Associate Wardens, the Captains from each yard, Dr. Sandra Ahmann, Assistant Principals Farmer and Farley and the entire educational staff.
While maintaining physical distancing, students, one at a time, walked through the education buildings on their respective facilities. The graduates were acknowledged and received their certificate or diploma as the staff cheered them on.
This round of commencements did not lack in proud achievements. All students and staff wore the required face coverings and sat or stood six or more feet apart during each ceremony.
The most robust of all the programs at SVSP is the GED/High School Equivalency Certificate program. During this round of graduations, 40 students received certificates on their individual facilities.
A final and substantial achievement for SVSP was the establishment of the Certificate of Attendance and Participation (C.A.P.) program and its very first graduate. The C.A.P. was designed as an opportunity for those students classified as developmentally disabled to complete high school requirements in a traditional way. The C.A.P. program has proven those students can complete a modified educational program and have the opportunity to move on to vocational skills programs.
Graduations are a clear demonstration of a SVSP rehabilitation in action. It is important for the graduates as well as others to see the celebration of accomplishments.
SVSP has enjoyed successful circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic, which would not have been possible without the strong leadership of Warden Atchley, the Captains on each facility and educational leader Dr. Sandra Ahmann.
Submitted by Lt. W. Fonseca
Written by J. Barnes