DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Pomp and circumstance played inside the Durham County Detention Facility on Thursday morning as detainee, Johnathan Shaw, received his high school diploma from Hillside High School.
In a virtual ceremony, family members and loved ones watched as he graduated from high school.
“I would like to thank everyone for coming out today and for supporting me for what I have done,” Shaw said during the ceremony.
Shaw is currently detained at the Durham County Detention Facility as he is awaiting trial for a murder charge.
Shaw was about to start his senior year at Hillside High School last year, when he was charged on Aug. 6, 2021 with the murder of Josh Garner, 18, who was shot and killed on Kirby Street in Durham on April 5, 2021.
Shaw could not talk about the details surrounding the legal case on Thursday, but said he is thankful he was able to get his high school diploma.
“I didn’t want to stop school, just because I got locked up,” Shaw said. “I’m not going to let my circumstances stop me, I’m going to get ahead of this.”
Shaw was able to get his diploma through a Durham County program that makes it possible for high school students who are detainees to get their diplomas.
The program is made possible through a partnership between Durham Public Schools and the Durham County Sheriff’s Office.
Teresa Sisco, a teacher for DPS, is the teacher for the detainees.
“I’m hired full-time by Durham Public Schools to be here at the jail,” Sisco said.
Sisco said there are currently five detainees in the program, and she helps them complete their schoolwork from inside the jail.
“I go up where the students are and I work with them,” Sisco said. “Each pod has a multi-purpose room, and that’s where I serve the student.”
Despite the situation some of these detainees may find themselves, this program is providing them a second chance, something that Shaw is thankful for.
“It is important to me to have a diploma because it’s hard out here already for African-Americans to get jobs, and I don’t want to be a high school dropout,” Shaw said. “I’m not going to let my circumstances stop me.”