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  • Three Tohono O'odham Nation members earn GEDs through Las Artes

    Oct 21, 2013 | Read More News
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    Sunny Moreno was so determined to get his GED that he drove more than 100 miles from Sells and back nearly every day to attend Pima County’s Las Artes Arts & Education Center.
    Sunny Moreno
    The 21-year-old is one of three members of the Tohono O’odham Nation who will graduate from Las Artes on Friday, Oct. 25, in a 10 a.m. ceremony at Pima Community College’s Downtown Campus.

    Young people who come to Las Artes to obtain their GEDs have often struggled with issues that have derailed their education. Most have become so discouraged by their previous experiences in school that they’ve dropped out or were at risk of dropping out.

    Some have had to work to help support their families. Some are homeless. Some are on probation. Some have been abused. Some have children.

    Las Artes gives them an opportunity to succeed and contribute to their community.

    “Sunny is personable, hard working and eager to learn,” said Margarita Neverman, a Las Artes staff member. “He made a commitment to being in school every day and being on time. In spite of many difficulties, Sunny turned it around and advanced through the program. His plan is to enroll in Pima Community College in January 2014 to take culinary classes.”
    Henry Dean Kisto Jr.
    Henry “Dean” Kisto Jr. often made the trip from Sells to Las Artes with Sunny and will be one of Las Artes’ valedictorians on Friday.

    Dean, 20, “carries himself with a quiet dignity that belies his young age,” said Kenny Robinson, another Las Artes staff member.

    “Dean was always willing to go the extra mile as a student, and his focus and dedication to his studies is unrivaled by the hundreds of kids I have worked with throughout my career.… I have no doubt that Dean will be successful in any avenue he chooses to enter because he has the self-motivation, attitude and work ethic that colleges and employers love to have.”
    Delicia Lopez
    Delicia Lopez started attending Las Artes in February and turned 18 this month.

    “Talk about determination,” Neverman said of Delicia. “It hasn’t been an easy road and she struggled along the way but she diligently stayed after school to tutor since taking her first assessment. Her drive and the help of the instructors and tutors have helped her accomplish her goal of receiving her GED.”

    Students at Las Artes, a program of the Pima County Community Services, Employment and Training Department at 23 W. 27th St. in South Tucson, spend eight weeks working on a community art project that teaches them the discipline they need for school, work and life. They learn to be on time, show up every day, follow directions and do their best.

    They then spend up to 24 weeks studying academic subjects. Of those who make it to the final eight-week GED unit, 98 percent pass the general educational development tests.

    Las Artes students’ murals, ceramic tiles and other artwork can be seen across Pima County – most recently installed in a wall at the South Kino Parkway entrance to the UA Bio Park. One of their murals – of César Chávez – hangs in the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington, D.C.

    More than 500 Las Artes students have obtained their GEDs since the program began more than 15 years ago. For more information, please visit Las Artes online.