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Diplomas offered for local veterans

GLOVERSVILLE — The Gloversville Enlarged School District is seeking out local veterans who qualify for Operation Recognition, a program created under state Education Law that allows school districts to issue local diplomas to military service members who left school without graduating.

Gloversville High School Associate Principal Dennis Bye is spearheading efforts on behalf of the district to locate members of the armed forces who through their sacrifice and dedication in service earned a high school diploma.

The 27-year naval veteran who retired at the rank of master chief petty officer knows the importance of earning a high school diploma from working closely with at risk Gloversville High School students and their families, helping as many as he can each year to “cross the finish line.”

“There’s a burden that people carry when they do not have a high school diploma,” said Bye.

When at risk students are contemplating dropping out Bye said he does everything he can to delay the decision until he can meet with the both the student and their parent or guardian who often become emotional and encourage their child to stay in school while admitting that they dropped out and regretted the decision.

“A high school diploma doesn’t necessarily equal intelligence and that’s part of what I try to get across to the at risk students,” said Bye who encourages these students to focus on the fundamentals. “You’ll find your own strength and you’ll find your own way in life, but show up on time, follow the rules and do what’s asked of you. That’s part of the success, that’s how you’ll get there.”

According to Bye these same lessons are instilled in active duty military members.

“They did learn the things that the high school kids learn, just a different way,” said Bye.

Operation Recognition through the state Department of Education recognizes the accomplishment and sacrifice of veterans who left school before graduating by offering these individuals the opportunity to receive the diplomas they earned through alternate means.

Any state resident living or deceased who engaged in active duty service and was discharged under honorable conditions is eligible to receive a diploma under the program. Qualifying veterans or their family members are asked to present evidence of the veteran’s military service and a written statement that the individual does not possess a high school diploma and is a state resident to their local school district.

“I hope they come forward,” said Bye acknowledging that some veterans who fall into this category may not have shared this information with their families. “Maybe no one knows, maybe the grandchildren don’t know grandpa doesn’t have a high school diploma.”

GESD has not yet identified any veterans seeking to obtain a diploma through Operation Recognition, but Bye is hopeful that locals will take advantage of the opportunity to be recognized for their dedicated service, pointing to a several options to honor veterans while presenting their diplomas depending on their wishes.

“I’d love to be able to award diplomas to [veterans] who don’t have them,” said Bye. “If I can help veterans that I’ve never met before, make them feel good, make them get something that they earned anyway, I’m happy to be the conduit for that.”

Anyone interested in learning more about Operation Recognition can contact Dennis Bye by phone at (518) 775-5711 or by email at dbye@gesdk12.org.

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