HiSET program brings dream to life for Hannibal resident

Britney Beaver, a student in the High School Equivalency Test program, works on an assignment. HiSET classes are taught during two-hour sessions Monday through Thursday at the Hannibal Job Center.

HANNIBAL — The Hannibal High School Equivalency Test program offers a way for members of the community to pursue their dreams, and Damica Kyle is on the way to her dream career of becoming a police officer after receiving her certificate.

Kyle dropped out of high school her sophomore year, and she was soon running with the wrong crowd and getting involved in drugs and alcohol. One day, she woke up and said, “I’m tired of this. I want to be a better person. I want to be a better person for my society.”

After she joined the High School Equivalency Test program in Hannibal, Kyle knew she was on the right path. For the past several years, the HiSET program has been provided free of charge in Hannibal by Macon Adult Education and Literacy, with support coming in throughout the community.

“Every day I came to class, I knew I was one step closer to being successful in life — whatever it was,” Kyle said. “I just knew I was going to be successful.”

Elise Burch teaches classes morning, noon and night from Monday through Thursday at the Hannibal Job Center. She commended community members and groups for their support of the program. State funding was cut for the program last year, and the Hannibal Business Women’s Group, Christ Fellowship Church and Veterans United from Columbia, Mo. stepped up to provide support including class supplies and waiving testing fees of about $100.

“A lot of graduates would not have graduated without that help,” Burch said.

Burch said 11 students graduated last year, and 12 students are currently enrolled in classes. Classes have been spread out to two-hour sessions at 8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., so participants can fit the instruction to their schedules. Students are accepted twice each month by Orientation Coordinator Darcia Miller, and Burch expressed her gratitude to Elaine Miller with the GAMM Corporation and weekly tutor Stan Choate.

Due to COVID-19 precautions, there are currently three students in each of the four classes, with seven students on the waiting list. Each student learns at their own pace, and Burch said students come in with experience ranging from second-grade to 11th-grade levels.

A Hannibal police officer offered words of inspiration to Kyle to make the right decisions. Soon, she joined the HiSET program so she could achieve her dream of making a positive impact in her community as a police officer.

It gave me so much joy, because I never really had people telling me every day ‘you know you can do this,’” Kyle said. “I’ve never seen people believe in me, and it was so awesome to actually have people looking at me and telling me I can do this and I can achieve my goals.”

Kyle is looking forward to her opportunity to become a cadet, attend law enforcement academy training and become a police officer. She offered words of encouragement to anyone who is thinking about enrolling in HiSET classes to achieve their goals.

“If you don’t try, then you’re never going to succeed,” Kyle said. “So get up and go and try it. Do it. Live life. There’s nothing more to it, and you’ll feel awesome afterward. I do anyway.”

More information about the HiSET program is available by visiting www.maconael.com to enroll in classes, or by contacting Lydia McClellan, director of adult education at 660-385-2158 or lmcclellan@macon.k12.mo.us. People interested in becoming a part of the program or providing support can contact Elise Burch, instructor, at 573-541-9305.

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