Night high schools welcome a new class of students Enrollees older, more serious, counselors say

May 27, 1992|By Monica Norton | Monica Norton,Staff Writer

Counselor Raymond Johnston says he remembers when the price for entrance into evening high school was a leather jacket, a pack of smokes and a bad attitude.

Today, the styles have changed, and so have the students at the Glen Burnie Evening High School. "I've been here 14 years," Johnston said. "We're seeing more serious students. And we're seeing more older students."

Eighteen-year-old Lisa Queen is typical of the students attending evening classes at Glen Burnie High, Severna Park High and South River High schools.

As a student at North County High, Queen was working at a local store late at night during the week. She said the late hours left her so tired she stopped going to school.

But Queen, who eventually decided it was better to quit work than to quit school, signed up for evening high school. She is taking two classes -- Practical Writing, and Painting and Drawing -- to graduate in June.

"It's harder here," Queen said during a break in her writing class. "This is the first English class I've really had to write in. In day school, I had a lot of electives. But here, I'm learning more coming here two days a week than I learned in my whole senior year."

But as Johnston said, evening high school is drawing a lot more older students.

At age 29, Robert Manning is one of them. A former Glen Burnie High student, Manning left school just a half-credit short of getting his diploma.

"I signed up in my senior year to join the military on the delayed-entry program," Manning said. "Well, they didn't wait."

While Manning's classmates were receiving their diplomas, he was receiving basic training.

Manning did receive his general equivalency diploma (GED), as well as an associate of arts degree. When applying for jobs, however, Manning said he found employers didn't always recognize a GED as equivalent to a high school diploma.

"But that's not the only reason I came back," Manning said. "I came back for myself. It's like getting up from the dinner table after a meal but you're still a little bit hungry. That's how I felt without my diploma."

Manning will receive his on June 4. He has been chosen to address his fellow classmates at graduation.

About 400 students attend Glen Burnie Evening High School each year, said Principal Nelson Horine. Between 300 and 400 attend Severna Park, and about 200 to 300 South River.

Glen Burnie offers classes Monday and Wednesday evenings. Both Severna Park and South River offer evening classes Monday through Thursday.

The classes at Glen Burnie run from 5:45 to 9:55 p.m. Each class cost students $125.

Johnston said students tend to be more focused when paying for the classes.

Students may take two classes a semester at one school. Often students will take two classes at one evening site and two classes at another, Johnston said.

Former Glen Burnie High student Danny Switzer, 28, said he returned to evening school for two reasons -- a job and his son.

"I want to join the state police, and you can't join without a high school diploma," Switzer said. "But most of all, I didn't want my son to know that Daddy didn't get his diploma."

During his first go-round at high school, Switzer said he hung with a bad crowd, one that looked down on education.

"Now I know education is the most important thing," Switzer said. "I'm just learning so much. Now, when my [5-year-old] son comes to me with his homework, I'll be able to help him."

Switzer is on line to graduate next fall.

Students like 41-year-old Tommie Pore and 37-year-old Patricia Wheeler have come back to evening high school for no other reason than to earn their diplomas. "It's just something that I wanted to achieve for myself," Wheeler said.

A former student Lansdowne High in Baltimore County, Wheeler moved to Indiana with her mother her senior year. She said she hated her new school so much she just stopped going.

Needing only a half-credit, Wheeler said she decided to return to school despite fears of being the oldest person in the classroom, except for the teacher. Now, she is one of the most vocal students in the class.

Pore, who joins Wheeler in discussions for their World Literature class, said he returned to school for personal satisfaction.

"A diploma is something that has avoided me," said Pore, a former Annapolis High student. "I've always taught my kids the importance of education.

"I don't think you can tell someone about education when you don't have your diploma. It would be hypocritical."

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