April 14, 2017
Hot Springs, Arkansas – Four National Park College (NPC) Adult Education students scored in the top 25 GED scores in the state this year. Over 3,600 students earned an Arkansas High School diploma in 2016. Jenna Hamilton, Andrea Peterka, James Gifford, and one student who wished to remain anonymous were each notified of the recognition last month.
Adult Education Director, Bill Ritter said, “We are proud of all of our students, many of whom overcome enormous obstacles to complete their diploma. But, we are especially proud of these talented young people. With more than 3,600 students statewide, to have four students score in the top 25 is incredibly rare. We are honored to have played a part in their journey to success.”
Hamilton had the 18th highest score in the state last year. She is a 17 year-old from Royal. She attended Lake Hamilton High School through the ninth grade and homeschooled for one year. After tenth grade, her mother, Sherry, noticed Jenna was performing college level work. She enrolled in the GED program to earn her diploma and start college early. Hamilton says she was surprised and honored to have received the recognition. She said the Adult Education staff were helpful and encouraging in helping her complete her studies. She plans to attend NPC this fall. Her goal is to transfer to Henderson State University to complete a Master’s degree in English and hopes to one day teach as a college instructor. Hamilton said she is “passionate about learning” and wants to help others learn too.
Pictured is Andrea Peterka (left) and Jenna Hamilton (right).
Peterka had the 19th highest score in the state last year. She is 18 years old. She was born in Hot Springs and moved the Czech Republic when she was 12. She spent four and a half years there before returning to the United States her senior year. Rather than attend one year of high school, Peterka opted to complete her GED at NPC. She says the Adult Education staff were really nice and supportive of her unique situation. She is still deciding her future plans but loves helping people and would love to own a business of her own one day.
Gifford had the 12th highest score in the state last year. He is a 20 year-old from Little Field, Texas. He moved to Hot Springs and earned his GED after struggling in high school. He said he was not a “premier student”, but that all of his teachers described him as smart. After being out of school for two years, he was uncertain about returning. He said he was proud of his accomplishment, stating, “it showed me how far I could go if I put my mind to it.” Gifford was appreciative of the Adult Education staff for helping him overcome obstacles to complete his goal and said that he enjoyed his time there. He has relocated to Texas and plans to enroll in automotive school. He hopes to one day own his own auto business and pursue his passion for music.
The Department of Career Education will host an award ceremony May 10 at 10 a.m. in the Old Supreme Court Room of the State Capitol Building in Little Rock. Both Hamilton and Peterka plan to attend. Gifford will be unable to attend due to travel constraints.