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60-year-old Goliad custodian earns high school diploma

By BY SARA SNEATH - SSNEATH@VICAD.COM
June 25, 2014 at 1:25 a.m.
Updated June 26, 2014 at 1:26 a.m.

Sandie Scroggins, 60, works to prepare a room for students at Goliad High School. Scroggins is a custodian at the high school, where she recently received her diploma as part of the SPARK program. "I was worried about how the students would feel when I walked with them at graduation, but they all stood up and clapped; it was awesome," she said.

Program requirements

Potential adult education students must be 21 years old and get a background check before coming onto the high school campus. Goliad school district requests a high school transcript from the state in order to develop each student's graduation plan.

• Location: Courses are taught in the Pride center, a computer lab for online classes, at the high school from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

• How to apply: Online at the Goliad SPARK website

• Cost: Free

How to help

Donations to SPARK help pay Goliad school district employees for the time they spend with adult students. To donate to the program, call superintendent Emilio Vargas III at 361-645-3259, ext. 101.

GOLIAD - Sandie Scroggins, 60, earned her high school diploma more than 40 years after dropping out of Cuero High School to get married.

A custodian at Goliad High School, Scroggins said she felt as if something was missing.

"I got married and moved to Yorktown. I had two kids. Then, we moved back to Cuero. I got divorced and so on. But I always dreamed about getting my diploma," Scroggins said. "Everybody really encouraged me. So, I went for it."

Scroggins is the first to graduate from Goliad's SPARK program, an adult online-education program that allows residents 21 and older to make up incomplete coursework to earn their high school diploma.

Three other adults are taking classes, and another four have signed up for the program, said Goliad school district Superintendent Emilio Vargas III.

"At 3:30, school shuts down, and all those assets that we own as a district were going through the evening without being utilized," Vargas said. "And what we realized was that we had a tremendous and powerful set of tools that we could incorporate in helping people to get back into the educational process and graduate from high school."

Scroggins enrolled in the program with another Goliad school district custodian in January 2013. For Scroggins, earning her diploma meant more than algorithmic equations or sentence diagramming. The lesson that will stick with her most is one of perseverance.

"For a while, I wanted to quit. But I said, 'No, I can't do that.' My teachers really encouraged me to finish. For once, I learned to turn on the computer," she said.

Since finishing her high school education, Scroggins has encouraged others to do the same. Another Goliad custodian has already enrolled in the program.

"We wanted people who had dropped out of school to come back in and to demonstrate to everyone else that it can be done. We are just so proud of her for sticking to it because it's not easy. It takes a commitment," Vargas said. "Her graduation has already raised that awareness."

Vargas said he is aiming for 10 adults to be enrolled in the locally funded program at a time.

Scroggins and the other adults in the SPARK program have encouraged more than those seeking a belated diploma.

"I can tell you, there are many times we work all day and we go in tired, but I leave uplifted because I think we are making a difference," said De Helmer, the director of instructional technology and assessment at Goliad High School and an instructor for the SPARK program.

"It's like if education becomes a priority to the parents, then it becomes a priority to their kids," said Pam Hailey, the dean of student services at Goliad High School, who also helps tutor the SPARK students.

Scroggins finished her classes in June and wore a graduation cap and gown to receive her diploma with the Goliad High School Class of 2014.

"They let me march and everything with them. When my name was called, the kids all stood up. That was really something," Scroggins said. "They made me feel good."

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