Residents who are interested in taking a General Educational Development (or GED) test in hopes of receiving a Florida high school diploma, but are unable to attend the classes in the time frames currently available, now have another avenue to pursue their goal.

Thanks to the effort and cooperation between Hillsborough County Parks Recreation and Conservation Department staff and the Brandon High School Adult Education program administration, classes are now being scheduled to be held at the Valrico Community Park, adjacent to the Valrico Elementary School on Miller Rd. in Valrico.

“We are very excited about the partnership with the county, and have a facility available for those who might work nights or afternoon,” said Adult School Administrator Ed Cristiano, who has been overseeing such programs for years at Brandon High School as well as at multiple satellite sites around Hillsborough County.

“This new facility opens the way for residents to attend during the day, which is not possible at a traditional high school,” Cristiano said.

As for the value of the program, Cristiano emphasized that earning a diploma is not the end, but the start of the journey for those that make the effort.

“This helps them get on with their lives, by opening doors to get better jobs or to further their education,” he said.

The new Valrico GED program is now scheduled to begin in October with classes on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning from 9 a.m.-12 Noon.

While the building is free, the cost of each block of time, such as a 10-week session for a GED class costs $45.

One of the teachers that will welcome the approximately 15 students next month in Valrico is Mike Mabry, who brings close to two decades of experience as well as a specially designed math program.

“I teach all the necessary courses, but nine out of 10 people have the hardest time with mathematics,” Mabry said. “I have put together a program that will be very beneficial to all the new students especially those that struggle with math.”

GED tests are a group of five subject tests which, when passed, certify that the taker has a high school level of education.

Since the program began in the mid-1940s, more than 18 million people have received a GED credential. One report said that 70 percent of GED recipients complete at least the 10th grade before leaving school, and the same number are over the age of 19, with the average age being 24.

For more information about the class, residents may call Ed Christiano at 744-8131.

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