Escambia County Corrections Recognizes GED Graduates

October 19, 2017

The Escambia County Corrections Department and Jail Division proudly recognized two Jail GED Program graduates with a ceremony Wednesday, Oct. 18 at the Escambia County Jail, celebrating their dedication to achieving educational goals. This marked the first formal graduation ceremony hosted by Escambia County to recognize individuals housed at the jail who receive their GED diplomas.

Laxavier Lowery, 18, and April Wheelus, 30, earned their GED diplomas through the program while incarcerated, and both said they plan to continue on to higher education when they are released later this year.

At the ceremony, Escambia County Corrections Director Tammy Jarvis commended the graduates for their accomplishment and encouraged them to continue to work toward their goals.

“Use this opportunity as a launching pad,” Jarvis said. “Getting your GED –  I don’t know that you know how many doors this has opened for you…this has opened so many more opportunities for you than what you had before you achieved this. Just the fact that you were willing to step out tells me that you’re looking for some sort of change. You’re looking to better yourself. You know that there are other things out there.”

Other ceremony attendees included Jail Commander Selina Barnes, Jail Maj. Greg Nash, Officer in Charge of Security Lt. Jason Walker, Program Coordinators Sean Parker and Donna Wilson, Instructors Rayshell Fairley and Charles Hall, along with graduates’ family members.

The Escambia County Corrections Department has offered a GED program for many years, becoming a certified testing center through the Florida Department of Education in 2014. In the 2016-17 fiscal year, two juveniles received high school diplomas and eight adults earned GED diplomas, with 324 students enrolled in the GED program and 179 tests administered.

After receiving his diploma Wednesday, Lowery expressed his plans to go to Pensacola State College for an associate degree before moving on to Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University to study communications. Lowery completed the GED program for his grandma, who he said was “rejoicing” when she heard the news.

“I never want to fail, so I continue to strive to do better,” Lowery said.

Lt. Jason Walker, who supervises the jail’s programs division including the GED program, said one of the objectives of the Escambia County Corrections Jail Division is to provide programs to incarcerated individuals to teach life skills in an effort to reduce recidivism.

“We want them to succeed so that society as a whole succeeds, and then hopefully next time we see them is in a better light,” Walker said. ”It’s a wonderful thing if we can help someone reach their goals.”

Wheelus said graduating from the GED program was especially significant for her since her mother encouraged her to complete it. Wheelus’ mother passed away Saturday, but learned of her daughter’s accomplishment before she died. Wheelus said she plans to attend Pensacola State College to study business and continue to better herself for her 9-year-old and 2-year-old sons.

“It means a lot,” Wheelus said of earning her diploma. “This is the best possible thing that could happen. It means a lot for me, my children, my family.”

Photos for, click to enlarge.


12 Responses to “Escambia County Corrections Recognizes GED Graduates”

  1. Kesha Alexis on October 20th, 2017 10:38 am

    Congratulations both of you and Laxavier Lowery we so proud of you we knew you could do it we love you.

  2. Melissa Holmes on October 20th, 2017 6:06 am

    Congratulations! Be proud of yourselves!

  3. Kelly on October 19th, 2017 10:58 pm

    Outstanding! Thanks to all who encouraged and taught them. Wish you The Best!

  4. Natalie Douglas on October 19th, 2017 9:07 pm

    Congratulations to you both, the sky is the limited.

  5. Khalil on October 19th, 2017 3:07 pm


  6. No Excuses on October 19th, 2017 2:30 pm

    Congratulations Laxavier and April! I teach GED for the federal prison system inmates and I know how difficult this test is. Best of luck to you!

  7. anne 1of2 on October 19th, 2017 12:39 pm

    Everyone wants to help young people with a second chance. Astray never means gone forever. I do not know these people, but I wish for them the very best in the future!

  8. Katherine on October 19th, 2017 12:31 pm

    So proud of you !! Never give up on your dreams no matter what the circumstances. You achieved it and set an example for many more to do better. Congratulations!

  9. Octavia Bellamy on October 19th, 2017 10:59 am

    It’s good to see positive coming out of a bad situation. I hope they continue to be great and push through to do better not just for themselves but also for the people that supports them in their dreams.

  10. Holly on October 19th, 2017 8:41 am


  11. Gman on October 19th, 2017 6:40 am

    Congrats to both

  12. 4 Hope on October 19th, 2017 6:34 am

    Congratulations to both of you!

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