High school diploma program achieves success at Avenal State Prison

Incarcerated students hold diplomas.
Avenal State Prison educators saw many achieve success through the high school diploma program.

By Lt. James Campbell

In 2019, Avenal State Prison Vice Principal Linda Babcock tasked Matthew Moreno with starting a high school diploma program. Already teaching a GED program on Facility E for nearly two years, he was up for the challenge.

Moreno was trained at Valley State Prison (VSP) by a high school diploma teacher Cindy Greer, who had more than 100 graduates from her program. Accompanying Moreno for training were teacher’s assistants Jesse Gonzalez and Jessica Frye.

Provided by the Office of Correctional Education, the diploma program is fully supported by the executive team at Avenal State Prison.

Multiple students graduate from the program each month but the institution honors all of them in one annual ceremony.

During the program is scheduled with the Warden, all Associate Wardens, education administration team, and the facility Captains to come visit the program, talk to all students, and take pictures with the graduates, while following social distancing guidelines.

These “meet and greets” motivate the graduates to pursue higher education.

Avenal State Prison high school diploma program

  • Program has been up and running for 17 months.
  • 45 students currently enrolled.
  • 25 Graduates since its start in June 2019
  • 10 of those graduates have been during the pandemic.