June 2013 Omega School Graduation:
Never Give Up
By Jonathan Gramling

Omega School graduations are always touching and inspiring.
The 2013 spring commencement held June 20 at Madison
Memorial High School was no different.

The tales that the graduating students tell remind us all of how
important education is and how difficult it is for some to attain.
For the 64 students graduating from Omega, it didn’t come
easy and all of them never gave up. Whether it was due to
financial, family or personal problems, their education might
have been delayed, but it is an education that they would not
be denied.

This class was especially large this year because the GED
system is changing on January 1 and any of the five GED tests
that individuals might have taken would no longer valid next
year. In addition, the tests will be more difficult. Many people
who may have put it off for months or years, are completing
their GEDs while there is still time. A sense of urgency is
starting to take hold.

“It was a good-sized graduation class, reflected Oscar
Mireles, Omega’s executive director. “We’re happy for those
who finished. There’s another couple dozen who could have
finished, but they kind of got lost. Typically, we graduate a little
over 100 students each year. Right now, we’re close to 100
students who have graduated this year. We did have a
graduation in February where we had about 35 students. We’re
anticipating another 100-150 to finish yet this year. So for the
year, we expect to graduate 200-250 students. We’re half way
there, but we still have a lot more people who need to finish
before the big change.”

Currently Omega School is closed until August 1 when their
fall session will begin. Some are chomping at the bit to get
started.

“I got seven calls today from people wanting to start today,”
Mireles said. “We’ll have some of those who didn’t finish high
school in May. We’re closed, but we had four high school
students show up this week instead of showing up when they
should have shown up and had been done. They are here now
when we are closed. Their timing is a little off.”

Typically, it takes people six weeks to three months to finish
the curriculum and take the test. The last GED test of the year
will be administered by Madison College on December 13. So
in order for people to complete the battery of tests — the math
Clockwise from upper left: MMSD Board member and former Omega
staffer Dean Loumos (l-r) is honored by Omega School executive
directer Oscar Mireles; Drum Power performs; Graduate Josie Freeman
(c) is joined by friends Stacie Hanger (l) and Danielle Turner (r); The
2013 Omega School graduates take a bow; Katy Sai of StoryBridge
accepts an award; CUNA Nutual scholarship winners Carmen Mercado
(l-r) and Tsering Wangyal; Omega graduate Ben Hawkins reflects
curriculum itself is two months long — they will need to begin by the beginning of September.

“At some point in September, we’re probably not going to allow new students to come because they aren’t going to have enough time to
finish,” Mireles said. “If they are interested, they really need to step up now because even if it is one month per test, we’re at that point in
August. There really isn’t a lot of time.”

Mireles and his staff have compiled a list of about 250 students to focus on who have started, but haven’t completed testing. Mireles
expects to have many additional new students come through their doors August 2nd when new student registration begins.

With an inordinate number of people expected to graduate, Omega is hosting several additional graduation celebrations.

“We’ll have a September graduation, an end of November graduation, a December graduation and a February 2014 graduation,” Mireles
said. “The graduations help people get motivated a little bit.”

Individuals without a high school diploma had better get motivated quickly before the opportunity passes. The time to get a GED is now!