Pima County’s Las Artes’ graduates celebrate GEDsby Pima County News on Jun. 30, 2011, under Pima County, Tucson
By Diane Luber, Pima County Communications Office
The celebrating started days before their commencement ceremony.
On Friday, July 1, students at Pima County’s Las Artes Arts & Education Center will mark the successful completion of their studies and the passage of their general educational development tests at a ceremony at Pima Community College’s Downtown Campus.
On Wednesday, June 29, they had a special dinner at their school at 23 W. 27th St. in South Tucson, where they thanked their families, their friends and the Las Artes teachers and staff who helped them reach this milestone.
These young people are more familiar than most with the school of hard knocks. They never thought they’d ever get through high school.
Las Artes, a program of Pima County’s Community Services, Education and Training Department, combines structured classroom study with community art projects to prepare students for GED testing and to build their employability skills.
Working together for eight weeks to create ceramic tiles and murals helped the students appreciate and develop the discipline they needed to pursue their dreams. Studying for up to 24 more weeks helped them prepare for the GED tests.
One thanked his grandma for the hugs she gave and the cakes she made to celebrate his achievements, and he thanked his mom – “even though she’s not here.”
Some thanked their own children for inspiring them to seek a better life and hoped that now they would be good examples for that next generation.
“I have learned from my mistakes,” one said.
Many thanked the Las Artes teachers and staff for “never giving up on me,” “pushing me to do my best,” “really caring,” and “giving me a second chance.”
Some of the students shared their aspirations – to attend Pima Community College or the University of Arizona; to be an accountant, an architect, a registered nurse.
One student, who talked about his descent into depression and drug addiction and the help he’d gotten to climb out of those dark holes, asked everyone only to “wish me luck.”
Las Artes has awarded more than 500 GEDs since it opened more than 15 years ago.
“Las Artes has been a long journey,” one young graduate said Wednesday evening, “and it’s only the beginning.”
For more information about Las Artes, contact program manager Elena West at 243-5053 or at Elena.West@pima.gov or go to: