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Fifth GED class earns diplomas at Deer Ridge

Six graduate from welding program

by: Photo by Holly M. Gill - Tucker Bauman, welding director at DRCI, and Dr. Cody Yeager, COCC director of education for Deer Ridge, congratulate an inmate at a graduation ceremony June 3.

Thirty inmates were recognized for earning their GED certificates June 3, at Deer Ridge Correctional Institution.
   The inmates, a few of whom had already been released, were the fifth class of inmates to earn GED diplomas at DRCI. Also recognized were inmate tutors, and six welding graduates.
   Guest speaker Michelle Wells Elliot, who was born and raised in Warm Springs, stressed the importance of education for the inmates.
   Elliot, who is now an alcohol and drug treatment counselor at Best Care, told the group that she began using drugs -- "methamphetamine was my drug of choice" -- in her late 20s, but didn't get help until she was arrested for possession of meth and went to jail.
   "I can relate to their struggles, because I struggle with the same issues day in and day out," she said.
   After being homeless and addicted to drugs, Elliot said she was finally able to make a commitment to herself to get off drugs and attend college. She was hired a little more than a year ago as a recovery coach.
   Inmate musicians performed several selections for the crowd, which included family members of some of the graduating inmates as well as DRCI officials, before a celebratory dessert of cake.