In 2010, Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana recognized that over half-a-million adults in Indiana lacked a high school diploma. Having already opened Indianapolis Metropolitan High School in 2004, a public charter school for traditional-aged students that focuses on college and career pathways, Goodwill was well positioned to meet this challenge.
When Nina Sharp became pregnant in 10th grade, she dropped out of school to take care of her daughter. She found it difficult to care for a child and work at the same time. The added responsibility of going back to high school to earn a diploma seemed impossible. For 17 years, Nina worked difficult and unfulfilling jobs where she wasn’t paid well. The last straw was being turned away from a job folding sheets. She decided it was time for a change.
If you didn’t know her story, Clarissa Dunn would look like an average, 21-year old college student, but the truth is, she has worked extremely hard to get on the path of higher education. She dropped out of high school her freshman year after becoming pregnant. When she enrolled at The Excel Center®, Goodwill’s high school for adults, she had few transferable credits and was completely starting over.
Night School, a documentary film following three adult students working to earn their Indiana Core 40 high school diploma and technical certifications from The Excel Center will be showing for a limited time this June at the Indiana State Museum.
The typical student at The Excel Center® – Goodwill’s high school for adult learners – is between 18-24 years old, but returning to school at the age of 47 isn’t the only characteristic that separates Brenda Leake from most of her classmates.
Although a teenager at the time, when Dominique Daye learned she was pregnant, her priorities became her son and planning for their future. She didn't have a car or a stable living environment, so she moved from Indianapolis to O'Connor House, a home for single mothers and their children located in Carmel, where she stayed for more than 18 months until she could secure a place of her own.
Denise Floyd enrolled at The Excel Center when she was nearly 30 years old. She had previously left high school after falling behind in her classes. Denise supported her family working various odd jobs, but she wanted a career.
When Alia Schleppenbach enrolled at The Excel Center in Lafayette in April 2016, she had no idea her mother would pass away just a few months later.
After becoming pregnant at a young age, Ashlee Roy dropped out of high school and thought her dreams were over. However, in 2015, she graduated from The Excel Center in Lafayette, earning her high school diploma. As a member of student council, she spoke at the graduation ceremony. The following are her words of encouragement to her classmates.