Avenal State Prison (ASP) Golden Hills Adult School reached a milestone in February when the 100th student graduated the high school diploma program.
In a Feb. 2 graduation ceremony, 29 of the most recent high school grads were recognized.
Speaking to the graduates, acting Warden Martin Gamboa expressed his pride, recognizing the hard work required to earn their diplomas. He also encouraged the students to keep pushing forward toward their next academic goals.
ASP acting Principal Hugo Martinez congratulated the students and wished them well with their ongoing education.
Several students said they were proud for earning a high school diploma and were excited to share their accomplishment with their families.
What is the ASP High School Diploma Program?
The Office of Correctional Education (OCE) created the program for students who are short 50 units or less, allowing them to complete the process for receiving their high school diploma. This special program was designed for more than just credit recovery. The program gives students a chance to complete missing coursework while incarcerated, graduating with a high school diploma. The program at ASP currently has two full-time teachers with six class sessions, accommodating 80 students.
How the program works
Program coordinators Matt Moreno and Al Graham, along with teaching assistants and registrar staff members, evaluate a potential student’s official high school transcripts, determining how many credits are necessary to earn their high school diploma. The students meeting all requirements are enrolled and begin the program. Students must complete a total of 180 units to earn their diploma. The Avenal prison diploma program has been up and running for 43 months.
- 80 students currently enrolled.
- 100 Graduates since its start in June 2019.
- Students who complete a 5-unit course of curriculum and have 75 hours of X-Time class hours, earn a 1 week milestone for their accomplishment.
- Students who have completed their diploma and been approved by OCE will earn a onetime EMC of 180 days for their accomplishment.
About the teachers
Moreno was trained in June 2019 at Valley State Prison by a longtime high school diploma teacher. After his training, he and his team began evaluating transcripts and building a program. After the first month, there were 12 students enrolled. Flyers were made and posted in every housing unit within the institution. Soon, prospective student began asking about the program and wanting to enroll.
With the increase in demand, Moreno trained Graham as the school’s second full-time program coordinator. The school has over 30 students on the waitlist for the high school diploma program and are waiting for open spots in their classes.
Moreno and Graham work close together every day by evaluating transcripts and verifying students for admittance into the program.
The instructors say the program is fully supported by the ASP administration team.