By Dawn Krebs
FORT PIERCE -- This week, thousands of high-school students endured four years of high-school for their chance to finally walk across that stage and receive their high-school diploma.
But for one Fort Pierce man, it took a little longer. Almost 30 years longer.
But now Carlos McLeod can call himself a proud graduate, having received his high-school diploma on May 18 from St. James Academy in Fort Pierce.
"I always wanted to finish high school," Mr. McLeod said. "Every time I went to look for a job, they wanted a high-school diploma."
Mr. McLeod is an Army Veteran, having left the service because of an injury in 1997.
When he decided to finish his diploma, he turned to the St. James Academy to help him achieve his goal. He took classes while working.
"Carlos has been in the program here for more than two years," said Jim Mason, director of the academy. "It was nice to see him finish."
St. James Academy has helped adults receive their high-school diploma since opening their doors in 2002. According to Mr. Mason, the majority of the students attending the school are adults in their 30s and 40s, who for whatever reason dropped out of high school.
"We help each student with their goals, one student at a time," Mr. Mason said. "It gives people a second chance."
For Mr. McLeod, his newest goal is to start on his college degree and look for another job.
"I've always wanted to do something with criminal justice," he said.
He also had some words of advice for students still working to get their high-school diplomas.
"It's never too late," he said. "It doesn't matter what position you're in right now, it's never too late to learn."
For more information about St. James Academy, call Mr. Mason at (772) 468-6198.