By Janet Sheelar, Community Resource Coordinator, Giddings State School
Giddings State School celebrated its students at the 2022 Spring Graduation, which featured a full gowned ceremony, a special speaker and a crowd of parents and teachers eager to cheer on the graduates.
Campus Supt. Bill Parks and Asst. Superintendent of Education Robert Fischer greeted the students and Valedictorian S.H. also addressed the graduates of Lone Star HS Southeast.
Then the crowd settled in for an inspiring talk by featured speaker, Albert J. Yancey III, who shared his difficult past as a teenager who was an A student and athlete but was derailed by trauma and the loss of his father. Yancey told how he turned to a life of crime, running with a gang, and selling drugs. A shooting led to his conviction and life sentence at age 17 for murder. He was sent to the adult prison, where he continued on a similar path for several years.
Yancey said that he turned his life around, became a Christian and got his GED and two associate’s degrees while incarcerated. He began a life that was the polar opposite of his previous one, reaching out to help people. With the support of people such as State Sen. John Whitmire, Yancey was eventually released from prison after serving 27 years. He started a ministry called Faith Beyond Incarceration and has spoken to numerous groups inside and outside of prisons. He also started his own freight business.
Yancey has helped Giddings State School youth by suggesting readings and activities over the past two years, said Assistant Principal Tracey Walker. “We are hoping something within his story and life process will help our students see change is possible,” she said.
Lone Star High School Southeast Principal Garry Blasig handed out the diplomas and GED certificates. Two students received their high school diplomas and 17 earned GEDs while at Giddings. Student Council members also were recognized.
The young men turned over their tassels and joined family members and teachers afterward for a cake reception. Other TJJD schools will be celebrating spring graduations in coming weeks. Schools run on a year-round schedule at TJJD, and campuses award diplomas and certificates and recognize graduates in the fall as well.
(Photos: Top right, Yancey gives his address; Left, Valedictorian S.H. speaks as the class, Yancey, Fischer and Parks look on.)