A dozen students graduated from Central Lincoln County Adult Education with their high school equivalency diplomas Thursday, May 30, celebrating with family and friends and learning about their career prospects from Maine Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman.
The Porter auditorium at Skidompha was overflowing with guests present to honor the graduates.
The graduates who were able to attend the ceremony are Breanna Blanchard, Logan Delano, Sarah Gemeinhardt, Marc Manning, Karlyne Olsen, Kelvyn Olsen, and Haven Simmons.
Isaac Albert, Jacob Rawley, Joshua Robison, Jonathan Rollins, and Free Woods also graduated this year, but were not able to attend the ceremony.
The CLC Adult Education program offers free classes to prepare students for the HiSET exam. If they pass the exam, they receive a high school equivalency diploma.
The HiSET, which replaced the GED in Maine, can double as a college entrance exam if the student achieves a score of 15 or higher.
Pamela Sperry, CLC Adult Education director, kicked off the festivities by introducing the graduates, thanking everyone involved in the adult education program, and introducing the commencement speaker, Fortman.
Fortman congratulated and encouraged the graduates, recited the John Greenleaf Whittier poem “Don’t Quit,” and proceeded to talk about the opportunities Maine offers to the recent graduates.
Fortman expounded on the benefits of apprenticeships, describing them as a way to “earn and learn at the same time.”
“In Maine, currently there are about 70 different occupations that people are working on through apprenticeships,” she said. “They range from emergency room nurses, to water system operators, to assistant teachers, to bench jewelers.
“There are opportunities for you in communities across the state of Maine,” Fortman said.
Graduates Karlyne Olsen, Kelvyn Olsen, and Gemeinhardt all briefly spoke to reflect on their time in the adult education program and give thanks to all who supported them and made their graduation possible.
“As humans, we are very social creatures by nature, so I really thank our teachers and our parents for being that resource that we need to keep our determination to complete this test, because this test is very important,” Kelvyn Olsen said.
Sperry then took the stage again to pay tribute to the graduates, first speaking in prose before switching to some of her original poetry.
The graduates “all made a conscious commitment to themselves to try to improve their lives,” Sperry said. “The result is 12 people who put in the time and effort to complete the course of study that enabled them to demonstrate their knowledge in five academic areas: reading, mathematics, science, social studies, and English grammar and usage, including the ability to write some persuasive essays.”
Sperry detailed the graduates’ performance on the HiSET exam and said all of them passed the test on their first try, which she sees as a testament to their determination and hard work.
“All of these graduates here tonight scored well above, a few even perfectly above, what was required on every test they took. That’s not always the case, but it certainly was with this group,” Sperry added.
Sperry went on to recite her “odes to graduates,” reading aloud her seven cleverly rhymed and funny poems that she personalized for each graduate who was present.
Sperry’s odes expressed bits of humor and apprehension, but mostly pride in each graduate, as she wove each tale in rhyming verse.
Next, Craig Jurgensen, superintendent of AOS 93, took the stage to present the graduates with their diplomas, and then the celebration was officially underway.
CLC Adult Education instructors Jackie Bennett and Elizabeth Potter uncorked the champagne (or maybe sparkling grape juice) and proposed a toast to the CLC Adult Education Class of 2019.
“May you love well and may you live well. May you take pride in who you really are and let this true self shine out into the world so we can all really see you,” Potter toasted.
The evening concluded with cake and punch at a jubilant reception.