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“Having that high school credential just opens up a lot of doors.” 25 graduates to earn GED/HSED credentials at Omega School Spring Commencement Ceremony

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Omega School Graduation is always a joyous event. (Photo by Martin Jenich Photography)

“Success is a series of steps and I think one step builds on another and for a lot of our students at Omega they’ve had a lot of challenges but no successes. I think once they can start stacking good practices, I think that makes a huge difference in their lives,” says Oscar Mireles, the executive director of Omega School.

“And soon your horizons open up and it can really make a difference,” he adds.

For more than 50 years in Madison, Omega School has provided individualized basic skills instruction in a supportive and informal atmosphere to help thousands of adults prepare for and obtain a GED/HSED credential. On June 20, 6 p.m. Omega School will host its Spring Commencement Ceremony where they will see about 25 graduates dressed in blue gowns and caps receive their GED/HSED credentials at the Madison College Goodman South Madison Campus, 2429 Perry Street. 

“Graduation is just an important step for young people. Having that high school credential just opens up a lot of doors. I think for our society, it’s a sort of a rite of passage into adulthood,” Mireles says. “You can start an apprenticeship, employers are much more likely to hire you for a job, and then you can go to college, and our partner, Madison College, is the best way to go to college because you’re not gonna have too much debt.”

Founded in 1972, Omega School has helped thousands of young people get back into the system, study for their tests, and most importantly – pass those tests with a high school credential.

Oscar Mireles speaks at an Omega School graduation ceremony. (Photo by Martin Jenich Photography)

 

Mireles works with his staff, dedicated volunteers, and a supporting network that includes several foundations in the Madison area to make passing the GED or HSED exams a reality for dozens of students each year.

The last week or two before graduation this semester, like many semesters, there is a host of students wanting to take their necessary tests around this time. “Deadlines work,” Mireles smiles. “We have been doing this a long, long time. It’s more work for us at the end of the semester when everybody is trying to finish, but it’s nothing that we can’t handle.”

Each year, Omega School hosts two graduation ceremonies — one in June and one in December — and then the Omega School family gets a little bigger. The graduation ceremony is always a fun and emotional event as students talk about their challenges and triumphs.

At the upcoming Spring Commencement Ceremony, Omega School will recognize the accomplishments of several supporters including:

  • Dr. Joe Gothard, the new superintendent of Madison Metropolitan School District 
  • Regina Milner, former Regent of UW System 
  • Frances Huntley Cooper, Former Mayor of Fitchburg and a longtime Madison-area community leader

“It’s really three outstanding guests to have at the graduation,” Mireles says. “We’re excited about it.”

In all likelihood, this will be Mireles’ second-to-last Omega graduation ceremony since he will be retiring early next year. Since he has been the principal/executive director at Omega School over the last 30 years, he has helped thousands and thousands of students get their GED/HSED. His graduated students have made an impact on the greater Madison community but it’s sometimes impossible to know how much … because his students are everywhere.

“I was a celebrity cashier at Brat Fest last week and I had an African American woman, maybe in her mid-30s, who came up to me who now works at Ascendium,” Mireles remembers. “We start talking and she goes, ‘You know, I went to Omega.’ I looked at her and then I was like, ‘Yep, I remember ya.’ She told me that after Omega School she went on to get her bachelor’s degree, a great job and a home.

“Here was somebody who was working but not getting ahead and now she has a great job, home, health insurance and is able to provide for her family,” Mireles adds. “I know that there are many stories out there like this. I think probably the best way to describe many of our graduates of Omega is ‘quiet success.'”