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December 7, 2019, eight men and women fulfilled their dream, obtaining their high school diplomas. For some, it was decades in the making. They walked across the stage to cheers from family and friends, including screams from proud youngsters barely beyond their kindergarten graduation. They all realized the accomplishment these men and women had achieved.

The Excel Center® is Goodwill’s high school for adults age 19 and older, created for students who were unable to complete high school as teens. The school is designed to remove any barriers a student might have to completing his/her education.

When you hear their stories, many are sure to relate. They left school for different reasons: unplanned pregnancy, struggles in the classroom or a student athlete no longer able to compete. And they decided to return to school for different reasons as well: the desire for a career, to be a role model for their children, or just to say they did it. They all had one thing in common, however: an emptiness that they never achieved that milestone, that right of passage-graduation.

There is no cost to attend the school. Free tutoring, life coaches, drop-in childcare and transportation assistance are also available.

Work is under way to build a new school, approximately tripling The Excel Center’s capacity. That’s because more than 315,000 adults in Arkansas, ages 25 and older, do not have a diploma. The new Excel Center will also be located at Goodwill’s Scott Hamilton Drive campus in Little Rock and will be able to accommodate more than 300 men and women. In the future, Goodwill hopes to further expand the school to 5 campuses around the state.