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Blue River grads change future with diplomas in hand


Rylee Essex had a rough go in pursuing her education

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She attended a small school until seventh grade, at which point, her parents decided it was best for her to be home schooled due to health issues. She was accepted into an online school and started to excel in that environment, regaining her love of learning. So much so that she took extra courses that she didn’t need to.

By the end of her eighth-grade year, her parents got divorced and she moved away. When school started back up, she decided to return to the small school she had previously left.

It was the worst mistake she ever made, she told those attending Thursday’s Blue River Career Program’s adult education graduation celebration.

“I was constantly ridiculed by the principal of the school and told that I was never going to amount to anything and never going to graduate, just because I had health issues and could not be there every day,” she told the audience.

She was put on probation and after she was taken off it, decided to return to home schooling.

She found out that the state shut down the online school she previously used and as a result, all of her credits were lost. As a result, she had to retake those lost courses.

That’s when her grandmother discovered Blue River Career Programs in Shelbyville.

Essex was one of 29 adults to receive their high school equivalency diplomas Thursday.

“If it wasn’t for Blue River, I really don’t know what I would do,” she said. “If you take anything away from Blue River, it should be that traditional way of school is not that important, (and) not for everybody. You’ve got to remember to never give up, and no matter how hard it is, you’ve got to keep going. You can do whatever you put your mind to. If you don’t like the hand you’re dealt, don’t be afraid to shuffle it.”

Essex was one of five graduates to speak during the ceremony, which also celebrated graduates receiving other credentials and licenses.

Thirteen received their Child Development Associate (CDA) credentials; 23 earned Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) degrees; eight earned Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDL); and two were certified as Clinical Medical Assistants (CMA).

Alan Hager, who was one of the high school equivalency graduates, said he never thought he would receive his degree after seeing his two children go through Blue River.

In 1985, he was supposed to graduate from high school, but decided to get a job because he felt like he was supposed to work and make money.

He held a job for 30 years but due to health issues and after losing his job, discovered the only way to get a new one was to get his diploma.

“I feel really good about it,” he told the audience. “I think mostly I feel good about it because my family feels good about me getting my education. For me, I thought I would never need it. Unfortunately, I found out the only way to get a job, I need an education. So I’m happy to be here.”

Growing up, Jacob Beckley was always told one thing: “If you don’t like something about yourself, you change it.”

About eight months ago, he found himself without a stable place to live with a job at a factory he did not enjoy.

“I was thinking about where I was in life and I realized there was a lot I didn’t like,” he said. “I was in a bad way.”

After moving from Kentucky, he discovered Blue River. His teachers, Alfonso Andolz and Michael Miller, were helpful in getting his life turned around.

“I couldn’t change my past, so I figured I’d change my future,” he said.


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