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Excel Center gives adults chance to earn diploma

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Posted: Wednesday, July 10, 2013 12:00 am

Another opportunity for adults to earn a Core 40 high school diploma is coming to Kokomo.

On Aug. 19, The Excel Center is opening its doors at 101 W. Superior St., making it the sixth Excel Center in the state.

The Kokomo location for the tuition-free charter school wasn’t chosen by chance.

“We identified a tremendous need for adults who had not received their high school diploma within Howard County,” said Nick Parks, site director for the Kokomo location.

According to data provided by The Excel Center, there are over 11,000 adults without a diploma with a 10-mile radius of Kokomo’s center. The school’s goal is to help more adults in the area earn their diploma, he said.

“If you look at a lot of the statistics, the median income in Kokomo falls well below the state average. The most recent census data shows almost one in five households are headed by single parents.

“So really when we talk about our mission from a fiscal point of view, the majority of our students are coming to us on some form of public benefit, and it’s one of our greatest ambitions to put them in a position where they can seek full-time employment or go into a full-time education program upon graduating and be able to really take control of their lives,” he said.

The Excel Centers have been in existence for three years. To date, 331 students have graduated from the locations in Marion County and Anderson.

The Kokomo location has space for 330 students, and enrollment is open to any Indiana resident who does not have a high school diploma. Individuals who have a GED may still enroll. Currently, 130 students have applied to the new location.

The center is structured like a traditional high school, Parks said, except classes take place Monday through Thursday. Day classes (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and night classes (5 to 8 p.m.) are available, along with free child care at the drop-in center.

Fridays are set aside for additional days for students to come in for help if needed, Parks said.

The program varies in length, depending on how many credits a student comes in with.

“We might have a student who comes in who may only need two credits to graduate. If that was the case, they could potentially be done in once class term, and our class terms run eight weeks long,” he said. “Then again we have plenty of students who come to us with absolutely no credits. So for a student in that scenario, starting with no credits, they’re generally looking at between a year and two years.”

Additionally, all students who graduate complete either a career certification or a dual credit course (one they earn undergraduate credit for).

Instruction is provided by licensed teachers. In addition, each student is assigned a life coach whose goal is to help “address the life barriers and issues that may have caused students to drop out of high school in the past” and to lead the student toward a diploma.

Enrollment is currently open and can be completed at www.excelcenter.org or by visiting the center’s temporary space in the second floor of the United Way building, 210 W. Walnut St., Monday through Wednesdays from 12 to 4 p.m.

On July 15, The Excel Center is hosting a block party in the parking lot of Grace United Methodist Church, 219 W. Mulberry St., from 1 to 5:30 p.m. to provide potential students enrollment instruction and information, as well as welcome the center to the area.