Forty years of catching up to do for couple

Karen and Duane Sickler have been out of high school for 40 years but finally graduated at the GED Graduation Wednesday night.

In the weeks leading up to taking the GED test, Duane and Karen Sickler’s home was “piled knee-deep with scrap paper” with notes on math and grammar that they hadn’t thought about for 40 years.

“It was hard for us,” Duane Sickler said. “But we worked together. We walked in that day to take our math tests, and I was teasing my wife that we could pick probably nine other kids there, and the sum of their ages would add up to my age or her age.”

The Sicklers weren’t the only couple who were awarded their general educational development degrees at the University Center Ballroom at Colorado Mesa University on Wednesday.

Tyler and Aletha Brummitt also achieved that honor along with a father-son team, Randy and Randall Heisa.

Altogether, 64 students earned their GEDs in this year’s graduating ceremony. The graduates range in age from 16 to 65.

Five of the graduates ­— Kimberly Rae Black, Jared Benjamin Brewer, Thomas Arthur Gerow, Rachael Ann McGrew and Aleta Colleen Yeager — posted perfect scores in the language arts/reading portion of the GED.

Two, Brewer and Jessie Lea Stewart, posted high scores in science, while one, Ethan James Huddleston, did so in mathematics.

Huddleston, who was valedictorian, and Black, salutatorian, along with Randy Heisa and Karen Sickler were among 14 graduates who earned high GED scores that made them eligible for scholarships to MSU.

For the Sicklers, studying together and earning their high-school equivalency degrees together was the culmination of a lot of thought and re-evaluation for the Grand Junction couple.

Both had left high school and worked hard most of their lives. But a bout with cancer left Duane Sickler without the strength to do what he used to.

“I was misbehaving and didn’t see much point to it,” Duane Sickler said.

After being treated at the St. Mary’s Cancer Pavilion and then volunteering there, he made a goal to get a job at the hospital, “but I need a GED to do that.”

Karen Sickler decided to get her degree, too, as a show of support and as a fresh start.

Both passed, of course. Her husband, who is a year shy of the 40th anniversary of what should have been his 1974 high school graduation, said they are looking forward to the future.


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