“There are usually 12 students normally in class,” said Steve Reynolds, High School Diploma Instructor at Porterville Adult School on Thursday afternoon. “But sometimes there are 40 students here.”

All the students have various reasons for being at the adult school, and they all have different stories.

Rebecca Torres, who’s studying dilligently for her diploma, said it’s taken her 30 years to go back to high school and get her education. She works from 30 to 35 hours a week at Starbucks, opening the store daily, and has four children. 

“My goal after my diploma is to go to college. Originally I am from Mexico City, and my uncle inspired me to go back to school. He is from the University of Mexico City and he is a professor of economics and history. And he is now studying to be a lawyer.

“Loving knowledge is like addiction. You want to know more and more.”

Gabriel Lemus, 18, also studying for his diploma, sat behind his computer and worked. He said, “I would have gotten a good job by now, if I hadn’t slacked off in high school. 

“This happened for a reason. And it’s great being here, and I get work done. And I’m enjoying myself working toward my diploma.

He says to other students or people who need to get their diploma, “Take a leap of faith and believe in yourself. And start working toward finishing your diploma.”

Another student, Spencer Paskwietz, 22, was also working toward his diploma, and said, “I’m just trying to get my diploma as fast as I can, and want to have my schooling done, before my family and I move out of state to Tennessee.”

Everyone in the class spoke about their goals or what they were doing to achieve their high school diplomas.


Cristina Montanez, 22, said it wasn’t as intimidating studying at the Adult School. She attended Butterfield Charter School and Citrus High School, and also Prospect Education Center. But she started at Harmony Magnet Academy, and said, “But I got sick and fell behind, and was in and out of the hospital. The school was very strict at the time, and it was hard to think of being in a non-traditional high school.

“I’m enjoying studying here, and I think I’ll get my diploma by spring, I hope. It’s been a journey since I was 16.”

She was enjoying reading and studying about history and the U.S. and French revolutions, and said she’s interested in history and loves going to the Civil War reenactments in Fresno.

Reynolds who was attentively helping his students and answering questions, said he has been a teacher for 42 years, since 1977, and has been in Porterville since 1986.

He started teaching at a continuation high school in Orange, Calif., just east of Disneyland. 

“I find ways to help students succeed,” he said, “And will do all I can to make that happen.” He tailors lessons to the individual students needs and abilities.

At the adult school they use regular textbooks, take notes, and take tests as well as have hands on learning and do experiments.

“My goal is to help students get their high school diploma and obtain life skills,” said Reynolds, “Skills like career searching, budgeting, how to take proper notes, and every day math.

“When students come to the Adult School they take a test and we analyze where they are and what they need to get their diploma. Then we make a plan so they can study and earn their high school diploma,” Reynolds said.

Most jobs require at least a diploma.

“You can take this class and get your diploma, but we also have a program where students can get a HiSet, which is the high school equivalency exam,” said Eddie Bittner, another adult school instructor. 

“This can be for the student who has a lot of credit, but there are always things they don’t know. For them this may be the way to go.”

For the HiSet there are five tests covering math, science, social studies, and English reading and writing. 

Bittner said the test is primarily a reading test, and there isn’t much memorization. But the test streses problem solving and how to analyze problems. 

Students can take the HiSet test alone or they can add civics, economics and U.S. History for a high school diploma.

For more information visit adultschool.portervilleschools.org or call 782-7030.


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