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Graduation at Last!

Updated June 30, 2022

Fort Worth ISD’s newest alumni received their high school diplomas in a special, first-ever graduation ceremony in their honor June 27. Seventeen former FWISD students from nine high schools who did not graduate with their senior class got the full graduation experience, wearing caps and gowns while “Pomp and Circumstance” played as they walked the stage at I.M. Terrell Academy for STEM and VPA. The new graduates celebrated with friends and family at a reception after the ceremony.

The ceremony included remarks by FWISD Board of Education President Tobi Jackson, Chief of Schools Jerry Moore, and a former student who earned the high school diploma that eluded her for 33 years.

Bethany Russell delivered remarks on behalf of students in the Fort Worth ISD Fresh Start Diploma Program. Ms. Russell did not graduate from Southwest High School in 1989. She raised a family and became a business owner.  Next year, her daughter will earn her master’s degree and today, at age 50, Ms. Russell has earned her Southwest High School diploma.

Students like Bethany Russell have earned high school diplomas over the last few years thanks to the Fort Worth ISD Fresh Start Diploma Program. The program allows eligible former students to earn their high school diploma if they can meet at least one of the following criteria established by the State Board of Education in 2018:

  • Meet the performance standard on an alternate assessment (SAT or ACT)
  • Perform satisfactorily on the applicable subject area test of a state-approved high school equivalency examination (GED test, HISET exam, or the TASC test),
  • Provide evidence of attainment of an industry-recognized postsecondary license or certification,
  • Provide evidence of current active-duty service in the armed forces or a DD Form 214 indicating honorable or general discharge from the armed forces; or
  • Complete college-level coursework and earned college credit.

Since 2018, FWISD has awarded high school diplomas to 60 former students with the new criteria. Bethany Russell had earned college credits at Tarrant County College, which made her eligible for her high school diploma today.

Until now, former students picked up their diplomas after submitting documentation to show they met the new criteria, but there was no ceremony to mark this accomplishment.

Former FWISD students who want to learn more about the Fresh Start Diploma Program can call 817-814-2340 for more information.