WALKER -- For the first time in more than two decades, students in the Livingston Parish Adult Education Center had their own graduation ceremony.

And it was quite the celebration.

Approximately 22 graduates, dressed in dark-colored caps and gowns, received their hard-earned high school equivalency diplomas during a ceremony held inside the auditorium at Walker Freshman High on Friday, Jan. 17.

The full graduating class from the first semester was 87 students, who ranged in age from 17 to 48 years old.

For the ceremony, families and friends joined students and faculty for a celebration that packed the WFH auditorium, even more than was originally expected, said Livingston Parish Adult Education Director Billie Prettelt.

“We had 200 chairs out, and we had to add more seating,” Prettelt said. “Even then, there were people still standing. We guess that there were around 250 people total. It was just great to see our students get so much support.”

The Livingston Parish Adult Education Center, located at 13330 Burgess Avenue in Walker, hadn’t held its own graduation ceremony since the early 1990s, Prettelt said. In recent years, students took part in graduation ceremonies with Northshore Technical Community College in Mandeville — a much further drive that became a hindrance to most Livingston Parish students.

Hoping to get more students to attend graduation, Prettelt and her staff organized a ceremony at Walker Freshman High, down the street from where classes are held.

It was a rousing success, capped by students tossing their own caps in the air. 

“I wanted to use it as an outreach for the community, and I wanted people to know what we do here,” said Prettelt, who was an instructor for two years before becoming the center’s director in May.

The Livingston Parish Adult Education Center offers free classes to help students pass their High School Equivalency Test (HiSET), along with free practice HiSET assessments. There are currently 197 active students enrolled at the center, where they study a wide range of subjects that includes reading, science, social studies, writing, and math.

For more information or to enroll, call (225) 664-9427 or visit the “Livingston Parish Adult Education/Work Ready U” page on Facebook.

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