Finish education closer to home

Mark Kay Versen, coordinator and GED examiner for the Dickinson Adult Learning Center, has only been on the job two months, but is already making an impact for local students seeking to obtain a high school diploma by non-traditional means.’

Posted October 4, 2012

By EDDIE HIBBS III

Pioneer Publisher & Editor

 

Mark Kay Versen, coordinator and GED examiner for the Dickinson Adult Learning Center, has only been on the job two months, but is already making an impact for local students seeking to obtain a high school diploma by non-traditional means.

Versen took the position at the ALC after a retirement created an opening. Since then, Versen has been going non-stop and the Bowman area is gaining an educational outlet in the process.

“I first made a task list and a dream list of things to do,” Versen said. “After I got going, Pam Fisher (Bowman County School counselor) calls me and inquired about a satellite campus in Bowman (for the GED). I jumped on the horn and got the ball rolling. I ordered the materials and ever since, things just flew. Pam initiated it, where it all started.”

And, the Bowman satellite campus is expected to start Monday, Oct. 8, though it could be delayed one week. Classes will be held at the Bowman County Library Monday through Thursday evenings. According to Versen, two instructors have already been hired and 13 students have signed up for the program with a 14th student transferring from the Dickinson program to the Bowman program.

“Our goal is for our students to get a high school diploma, but for those individuals that contact us, there was no easy answer other than direct them to Dickinson and the Adult Learning Center there,” Fisher said. “It started here because that is where the inquiries were and we could only send them to Dickinson. Now, they have an opportunity to get their GED in Bowman.”

GED stands for General Educational Development (or General Educational Diploma) and was originally created to help veterans after World War II return to civilian life. More than 18 million people have received a GED diploma since the program began. Approximately one in every seven Americans with high school credentials received it through the GED.

The GED test includes five segments: reading, writing, mathematics, social studies and science. A student must pass all five segments in order to receive his or her GED, and once successfully passed, the student receives a certificate of high school equivalency.

Fees vary by state. In 2008, fees ranged from $7.50 at North Carolina’s community colleges to more than $150 in California. For the Dickinson Adult Learning Center, the fee is $25 per test, but students experiencing financial difficulties may apply for free GED testing fees. The Bank of North Dakota pays for the first and fifth test for each student. There is also a $25 registration fee for the GED classes.

If a student passes one or more but not all five subjects, he or she needs only retake the tests not passed.

In response to criticism that the GED tests were too easy, the tests were revised in 2002 to make it more difficult to pass. According to Versen, 46 percent of high school students are unable to pass the GED exam. Beginning Jan. 2, 2014, the GED will undergo another revision with the reading and writing tests being combined into one exam.

Some of the famous individuals with GED diplomas include:

• Bill Cosby, actor and comedian

• Michael J. Fox, actor

• Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s

• Ben Nighthorse Campbell, former U.S. Senator from Colorado

• Judge Greg Mathis, retired district court judge and TV host

• Jim Florio, former governor of New Jersey

• Walter Anderson, editor of “PARADA” magazine

• Chris Rock, comedian and actor

• Richard Carmona, physician and 17th Surgeon General of the United States

• Wally Amos, founder of “Famous Amos” Cookie Company

• Peter Jennings, journalist and anchor of ABC’s World News Tonight

“The library is very excited to have the opportunity to house the GED program here at the library, said Sarah Snavely, library director. “The mission of the library is to bring people, information and ideas to enrich lives and build community. I think the new GED program does just that.”

Individuals seeking more information about the GED program may contact Versen at the Adult Learning Center at (701) 456-0008 or by contacting the Bowman Public Library at (701) 523-3797. Brochures about the program are also available at the library. Students may register for the program by contacting the Dickinson Adult Learning Center.

“We’re shooting for Oct. 8, but if not, then certainly the following week,” Versen said.