Amanda Worley was two credits shy of earning a diploma when she was allowed to walk across the stage as part of Dawson County High School’s class of 1998.
With a certificate of attendance in hand, the teen vowed she would continue studying and later retake the required science and social studies portions of the graduation test that she had not passed her junior year.
Weeks turned into months and months into years before Worley, now 31 and living in Newnan, returned to campus last week to receive her diploma. Her parents and young son Devon were by her side.
“Being single, I’ve been divorced for five years, and I just wanted that opportunity to go back to school, so I could get a better job that would provide a better living for me and my son,” she said.
Wearing a cap and gown, Worley marched into the high school library Friday morning as “Pomp and Circumstance” echoed over the speakers.
A crowd stood in recognition of the new graduate, who is now considering her college options.
“I just feel so blessed,” Worley said. “I’m always telling my friends about this school and how much fun I had here. Life just happens so fast and you don’t realize it when you’re here.”
Worley’s tale spanned 13 years and many headaches.
Last year, she passed the social studies portion of the graduation test, but fell one point short of the science credit.
Working with counselors and administrators at the high school, Worley wrote a letter to the state education board and requested a variance for the credit to receive her diploma.
“I’m always telling my son to never give up. I know this would be a major stepping stone,” she wrote.
Near the end of January, Worley’s persistence paid off when she received a variance.
Counselor Marjorie Poss remembers the drive Worley had as a teen.
“She’d always ask for help, and if she asked, she followed through and got the help,” she said. “I’m so proud for you to set a goal and to complete that goal and to do it for that young man.”
Superintendent Keith Porter applauded Worley’s determination.
“We are just extremely proud that she saw that a high school diploma was so important that she was willing to do the extra work,” Porter said.
“A lot of times when people leave, they get on with life and they aren’t willing to come back and do what’s necessary to get a diploma. She’s a rare exception.”