Merced County Times Newspaper
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Photos by Nate Gomes / MCOE

Come Back Charter holds first graduation ceremony

In full cap and gown regalia, 10 graduates of the Come Back Charter School received their high school diplomas on June 27 at the Merced County Office of Education.

The 10 participants were among 21 who completed the requirements for a diploma in a program launched last Sept. 8.

Many of the others already have found jobs or are starting training programs and could not attend the 25-minute ceremony.

Dr. Steve Tietjen, Merced County superintendent of schools, termed the graduation a wonderful accomplishment and said getting the diploma will change their lives and those of their families.

“The best investment you can make in your lives is your own education,” Tietjen said. “It’s an accomplishment that can never be taken away.”

Principal Mark Pintor said he has been in education at the county schools office for 17 years and Thursday’s graduation is one of the best times in his educational career.

“This is a really special day. This is the first step of many steps. These students are the pioneers of this school. They apparently overcame and came back. How do you get over these obstacles? That’s self-determination,” Pintor said.

At the peak, Come Back Charter School had 90 students and the current enrollment is about 60 students. Pintor said students range in age from 18 into their sixties. Some students had personal, behavioral, attendance or family issues earlier in their educational careers.

Come Back Charter School uses an independent study format with students learning online. They meet with their teachers once a week to review progress and assignments.

Instructor Valerie Fullbright, who has taught with MCOE for 18 years, said the school’s first graduation is really exciting. She said it’s important to recognize the students’ hard work and their efforts to overcome barriers to graduation.

She said Come Back Charter School’s course work is rigorous and the equivalent of any other high school diploma.

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