Girtus Gillispie is not your typical high school graduate.
He is 22, with a job at Dunkin' Donuts and a 3-year-old son, Patrick.
But adult education is not for typical high school students. It's for people such as Gillispie, who got kicked out of school six years ago but came back because he needed a diploma. And it's for others who know that education is a must for success.
On Monday night, Gillispie will stand in front of a group of people like himself -- some older, some younger, but all of whom are graduating from Rock Hill Adult Education and going back into the community with a crucial piece of paper: a GED. He is the student speaker, chosen by his teacher, to address graduates.
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"It means a lot to me," Gillispie said. "I want to set an example for my son. I don't want him to feel like I dropped out, so he can, too."
Gillispie will tell his peers how he came to adult ed. How he thought working and making money was more important than an education and then came to realize he was wrong. How he started taking classes, then stopped, but had a wake-up call when Patrick was born. He came back and got serious about his studies.
Lori Grant, the lead teacher at adult education, said Gillispie's situation is common among adult education students.
"The poster we have in here is that you can always do a U-turn and turn back and re-do something," she said. "That's sort of the motto for all of our students. Even if you make a mistake, it's OK. If you decide you want to fix it, we're here to do that."
Gillispie took classes on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. He had a job during the week and spent time with Patrick on weekends. He got testing in work force skills in addition to his high school course work.
Gillispie is taking classes at York Technical College, pursuing an associate degree in accounting. He wants to go on and get a bachelor's degree after that.
He said he always knew that he was smart enough to finish high school, but it was just a matter of focusing and getting the work done.
Now he has what he needs to get a job and is setting the example he wants to for his son and his younger sisters.
"The GED program is a good program," he said, "but if you can get your high school diploma, just go on and get it."