At this time, TJJD will not accept transfers from county facilities where staff or youth have tested positive for COVID-19. That decision currently affects Dallas, Harris, and Bowie counties.

Photo: Photo of graduates in blue gowns
Giddings State School holds two full graduations each year, honoring those who earn high school diplomas and those who have earned high school equivalency certificates.

GIDDINGS, Texas -- Dozens of young people graduated at TJJD’s Lone Star high schools this spring, and two students matriculated with a special recognition, having earned a “distinguished” academic diploma.

These two graduates attained a Distinguished Level of Achievement under the Texas Foundation High School program by completing advanced courses that exceeded those required for a high school diploma.

The students, one at the McLennan County State Correctional Facility and the other at Evins Juvenile Correctional Center, showed themselves, their teachers, families and classmates that they not only have smarts, but also grit and determination, said TJJD Superintendent of Schools Luther Taliaferro.

“We’re very proud of them, and of all our spring graduates,” Taliaferro said. “Many of our youth have had to overcome serious obstacles, and we are thrilled to honor their educational achievements.”

Indeed, all of the spring TJJD graduates -- 35 earning high diplomas and 122 earning graduate equivalency certificates for the 2018-19 school year -- can rejoice in their accomplishments. Many came from behind grade level when they arrived at TJJD, filled in the gaps and crossed the finish line.

Araceli Sanchez, school counselor at Evins’ Lone Star South High School, said that their distinguished student, DT, never doubted he’d go for the 26 credits, required for the distinguished designation.

Photo: Youth studying


Evins’ distinguished graduate said he knew he could manage the extra work, having done well in school before coming to TJJD.

“I told him, ‘you can graduate with 22,’ and as soon as I told him, he said, ‘Nope, I want the 26’,” and pointed out that he had not received less than a B in high school in his hometown,” she said.

“I just knew I had the ability to do more than the GED,” DT said. “I’ve always done well in school before I came here. It wasn’t really a problem (getting the distinguished designation).”

At McLennan, the distinguished scholar said he pursued the program because he was on that track before coming to TJJD and “partly to be able to say, ‘I did this’."

“And it doesn’t hurt to put it on resumes,” he added.