NORTH BERWICK, Maine — Friends and family members gathered in Noble High School’s Phillip W. Hussey, Jr. auditorium on Monday night as 51 adult students who hadn’t yet earned their high school credentials finally made it to graduation day.
Noble Adult and Community Education’s Class of 2011 were awarded G.E.D. certificates, high school diplomas or COMPASS college transition certificates as part of the program’s annual commencement ceremony.
The processional began at 6:30 p.m., with male students clad in burgundy caps and gowns and female students draped in white ones marching to the stage. They were followed by a recital of the national anthem by Noble High School students Dustin Niehoff and Cat Matthews.
Noble Adult and Community Education Director Brenda Gagne welcomed the students to the stage by telling them that she was proud of how determined they were to graduate despite the difficulty the program offered.
“The one thing I never saw was hesitation,” said Gagne.
Gagne related a story about a student she once had who said that working in a shoe factory gave him Dream Deficit Disorder, an ailment that was cured with adult education. Gagne told the students that she hopes it did the same for them.
“My hope for each of you is that you continue learning and dreaming all your lives,” said Gagne.
Francis Sinclair, who was being awarded his G.E.D. that night, followed Gagne. Sinclair said that earning the certificate was a steppingstone for his family, and helped to inspire his children as they attend school.
“You can change someone’s outlook on life by doing this,” Sinclair said of the program.
Fellow student Matt Champagne took the stage to sing a musical selection entitled “This Is The Moment,” before Lori-Lee Moulton gave a tearful speech in which she thanked her family and encouraged others to blaze their own trail in life.
“It’s not about how we got here tonight, but that we got here,” said Moulton, adding that her daughter had graduated from Noble High School last Saturday.
Champagne then returned to the stage to speak out in support of adult education programs, calling it one of many possible paths to achieving greatness.
“We’re here at commencement proving that alternatives to high school really do work,” said Champagne.
Champagne reminded students that everyone finds themselves in different ways, and that “there are no textbooks on who we are and who we’ll become.”
COMPASS Coordinator Julie Pattern then awarded 16 students their COMPASS certificates, which shows that they are ready for the transition to college.
“These students are going places,” Pattern said.
The Class of 2011 was then awarded their diplomas by Superintendent of Schools Paul Andrade and Assistant Superintendent Susan Austin. The class was then instructed to move their cap’s tassel to the opposite side before rejoining their families as high school graduates.
After the ceremony, Nicholaus Morin, 32, of Lebanon, said he now has renewed hope for his potential in the job market since being laid off months ago.
“I can do just about anything now,” Morin said, adding he is looking into online certificate courses to boost his credentials.
Amanda Morse, 20, of North Berwick, said that the hardest part of the program was just maintaining the ambition to see it through to the end. Morse said that students that can hang on would be rewarded with new opportunities and a better feeling about themselves.
“It’s a confidence booster,” Morse said.
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Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.