COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - It was a milestone moment for 80 students at the Muscogee County Summer Graduation at Carver High School on Thursday night.
A new Georgia law passed in March 2015, made it possible for them to get something they thought they never would: their high school diploma.
Some students thought it was impossible to graduate after difficulties passing the Georgia High School Graduation Test.
However, House Bill 91 decided at least 8,000 students dating back to 30 years are eligible to earn their diploma. 562 students in Muscogee County applied for graduation.
Only 80 of them decided to make it official by walking across the stage to get their diploma.
With their high school diploma in hand, the "brand new graduates" are about to embark on a new journey.
"I'm going to the military and take up engineering and let them put me through school," said Antowone Nelson, graduate.
Nelson was supposed to graduate in 2013 but was unable to pass one part of the Georgia High School graduation test.
"It was kind of tough but I still stuck in there and I managed to make it. I missed the graduation by 10 points," said Nelson.
"He was struggling because he was in special education and reading was his worst subject but he didn't give up," added his mother Pinkie Nelson.
House Bill 91 eliminated the Georgia High School graduation test. Students enrolled in ninth grade for the first time after July 1, 1981, meeting the state and district credit requirements are eligible to receive their high school diploma, but students will need to apply for a petition.
Before the test was eliminated, Tynisha Green missed graduating by two points. She was supposed to be part of the class of 2005 at Jordan High School.
"I kept taking the test, I wrote the state," said Tynisha Green.
She's now walking the stage with her sister and a cousin, living up to a promise she made to her mother who died some time ago.
"That's something I told her I was going to do and I was going to make sure my baby sister did it and we're here," said Green.
Antowone Nelson and his family says giving up wasn't an option.
"I saw everyone else walk across the stage and it really kind of hurt me. I got a certificate of completion so I was like I got to go back and get it," said Antowone. "We didn't give up on him. We didn't give up on him. We it got hard, we got harder," added his mother.
Now the graduates are equipped to reach higher heights, better job opportunities and lead better lives.
Altogether, there were 119 participants at the in summer graduation from the seven high schools in Muscogee County. 39 of them were regular summer school graduates. For more about House Bill 91, click here.