Home On The Range is a therapeutic, working ranch located in western North Dakota that provides education, therapy, spiritual guidance, recreational and work activities to youth struggling with dysfunctional behavior. Founded in 1949, the ranch is licensed to care for 36 boys and girls, between the ages of 12 and 19.
In an announcement on Wednesday, Home On The Range Development Director Jolene Obrigewitch highlighted a new General Educational Development (GED) testing opportunity being implemented and made available to residents.
According to the National Center for Education Statistic's latest data, approximately 2,009 people take the GED test in North Dakota each year with more than 75% successfully passing the exam.
According to Obrigewitch, all of the children have experienced trauma with many having been subject to sexual abuse, physical and emotional abuse, and constant moving from place to place.
"The goal is to resolve these problems, teach appropriate coping skills, heal trauma and do it in a matter of months. Once the children have completed their program at Home On The Range, they return to their communities and families," Obrigewitch said. "They become young adults and begin to plan their future. That future may be finishing high school and attending college, beginning a career, or starting a family of their own – but all of them will hope to become productive and responsible citizens."
According to the release, the GED testing site will be monitored by HOTR staff in conjunction with Beach School District personnel as they monitor residents and assist in studying or taking practice tests before a GED Trained Administrator administers their final exams.
According to Obrigewitch, the opportunities this new program will provide residents will greatly improve their potential for future success and employment, as many residents are behind in high school credits as a result of multiple moves between therapeutic foster families and school districts, or have problems attending school, working in a classroom environment or even staying in school.
The testing schedule is flexible and doesn't require residents to follow the school calendar.
"Another advantage is if the student completes part of the exam in another school district, they can now finish their series of tests while they are at HOTR. The best part is when the residents successfully complete and pass all the tests; they have a GED certificate and can apply for a college education or employment opportunities," Obrigewitch said. "Residents who may be a long way from graduation choose to participate in the GED testing and achieve great success. Plans are under way to hold private graduation ceremonies for the residents who complete and pass all the tests and earn their GED certificate while at Home On The Range."
Since the inception of the private testing site, five residents have taken nine tests.
To date, a single resident has passed the four tests and received a score high enough to qualify for some college credits, and will receive their GED Diploma.
In a speech given at the North Dakota State Knights of Columbus convention and Home On The Range Spring Banquet, a resident's testimonial summarized the services being provided to residents at the facility.
"I have so many to thank for helping me through this life-changing journey: My family, who never gave up on me. Sometimes I think they should have, because I was no angel. I thank them for being there for me, for having faith that I could change my ways, and for loving me enough to let me go for a while. The staff at Home on the Range, who had to deal with every outburst in the dorm, but still be there for me when I had a bad day. I owe them so much," the kid said. "Because of these people, I would not be standing here today, in front of you all, telling you my story. I would not be striving to fix my life. So I thank them."
The child continued, "I thank them with all of my heart and my soul. Because of them, I am finally happy with who I am becoming."