High school graduation rates in Wisconsin are at an all-time high. Nearly 90 percent of all 2018 high school students obtained their regular diplomas, according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

But not everyone who starts high school earns that “regular” diploma. Based on those figures, one of out of every 10 students don’t graduate high school.

There are many reasons why students drop out of school with failing too many classes and boredom being the top reasons, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Others reasons include: Becoming caregivers, getting held back, using drugs, becoming pregnant or joining gangs.

Just because someone drops out of high school doesn’t mean they can’t get their diploma. At Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) last week, nearly three dozen people graduated with the General Education Diplomas (GEDs) or High School Equivalency Diplomas (HSED).

The class of 35 graduates was the highest on record, according to Kara Leiterman, the public relations manager at NWTC.

We applaud this class of graduates, with nearly half of them (17) being inmates at the Marinette County Jail.

At the graduation ceremony, Gary Johnson, the NWTC GED instructor, pointed out that earning a GED isn’t simple.

“The GED is not an easy battery of tests to pass,” he said. “It’s very difficult, it’s been hard on them, and I’m sure they’re very glad they’re done. We’re proud of them.”

Jennifer Flatt, the new dean at NWTC, said the GED graduation was a highlight that will be difficult to top.

Joe Moser, the Marinette County Jail education coordinator, praised the inmates he works with for using their limited study time wisely and not being distracted by others who may not have similar goals.

The GED and HSED basic adult programs at NWTC have been going on for 12 years and now has been completed by 200 individuals, according to Associate Dean Pam Gerstner. She said the tests have progressively got more in depth and difficult.

Gerstner provided some interesting statistics. She said in the seven counties served by NWTC, 36,000 individuals over age 18 don’t have high school diplomas. Of the roughly 700 people who sought GED/HSED in the past year, about 140 completed the task.

Those numbers prove that obtaining a GED or HSED is not easy.

As part of the ceremony, some of the graduates answered questions about the program and their future plans. It was uplifting to hear the answers, including one woman who offered this advice.

“Never give up. People hold themselves back because they feel defeated. It’s our doubt that hold us back. The best things in life are earned, and it’s not easy, so don’t give up. If you fail, try again. Keep trying. Don’t ever let yourself be defeated.”

Those are powerful words that every person, not just these graduates, should remember.

We’re fairly confident saying that most people who earned their GED or HSED would rather have gone through the normal high school process and earned their diploma in the traditional method.

Life doesn’t happen that way. It’s full of twists and turns. Some people crash and burn. Others survive and find a way to get back on their feet.

Those 35 people who earned their GED or HSED last week should be very proud. We wish them well in their future endeavors.