Ashley Hatcher shakes hand with graduate Roscoe Boxley as Superintendent John Isom applauds
It was a perfectly normal graduation with caps and gowns, opening prayers, speakers, awards, and handshakes. But this June 30 ceremony was happening in jail, behind armed guards, security cameras, and metal detectors. It was not a normal graduation. For the families involved, it was better.
The inmate graduates of the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail's volunteer GED program surmounted barriers that most high school seniors never confront. In their eyes, you could see the sense of hope that this event engendered.
In the words of valedictorian graduate Kenyatta Anthony, the students had let go of the fact that they were doing time for the state, and consider that they are doing their time instead. And they are using their time to make their lives better.
If pride has a face, it would belong to any one of the friends and family at the event. To them, this was more than a graduation. It was a sign that when their loved ones are released, they will not go back to the dangers that brought them to this place– and that their son, daughter, or friend will have the knowledge and tools to build a better life.