MERS Goodwill announces the commencement ceremonies of students from the Goodwill Excel Centers in the St. Louis location on Saturday.

In total, the Goodwill Excel Centers in Missouri will graduate 168 students this weekend between all four schools.

The Goodwill Excel Center is a free high school that gives adults the opportunity to earn an actual high school diploma. While earning their diploma, students earn college credits and a variety of industry-recognized certifications in order to increase their earning potential. Since opening, there will be 282 total graduates in less than two years of operations with projections of 400 graduates per year moving forward.  

“We are once again so proud of all of our graduates this year, especially as we navigate through the pandemic and have turned to online/virtual learning,” said Dave Kutchback, president and CEO of MERS Goodwill. “Thousands of individuals drop out of high school each year, impacting their career potential, and we are committed to providing these adult high school students with accelerated learning, opportunities for post-secondary education and individualized career planning all leading to their success in life.”

Graduations will look a little different this year due to COVID-19. 

On Saturday, the Excel Center St. Louis will hold its graduation. There will be 97 graduates, and the school will host them in three ceremonies starting at 9:30 a.m., 12 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Masks will also be required. These ceremonies will take place on the parking lot just outside of the school, which is located in downtown St. Louis at 1727 Locust Street.

“We are incredibly proud of our students receiving their high school diploma through the Goodwill Excel Centers,” said Mark Arens, Goodwill’s executive vice president and chief of program services. “We look forward to seeing the continued success of our graduates as they move on to join or reenter the workforce, with many students also entering local colleges.

“I’m honored to be a part of their achievements, and look forward to this weekend of graduation ceremonies.”

As it has been reported, there are approximately 500,000 people in Missouri over 21 without a high school diploma. MERS Goodwill hopes that people continue to take advantage of the Goodwill Excel Centers. Although the adult high schools closed in March and had to shift to online classes because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Goodwill Excel Centers shifted quickly to create an online option for students and faculty.

Each location has mainly online classes, but is open to students and faculty for tutoring and help with technological issues. Typically, class times are flexible to accommodate work schedules, and each facility has a drop-in childcare center that is free for students attending class. Those interested in applying can call (314) 982-8802, or visit https://excel.mersgoodwill.org/.