Londonderry High School Adult Education graduates celebrated the journey by which they earned their high school diplomas, as well as the bright futures that lie ahead.
“Being in the moment right here reminds me that the hard work and dedication that we have put into graduating has finally paid off. Four years later, and we are walking out of this school tonight, proud to be the men and women we have grown to be,” said Ashley DiBenedetto, a student speaker at the high school’s Jan. 13 Adult Education graduation celebration.
DiBenedetto reminded her fellow graduates that although it may be frightening to leave the place they have called home for the past four years, they are prepared for whatever the future may bring.
“The educators and administrators that have been working with us have done a phenomenal job from day one preparing and guiding us in the right direction so that when we do close this chapter in our lives, we will have the knowledge and the perseverance that we need in order to be successful in anything we want to do,” she said. “Our diplomas are recognition of that.”
“Our diploma is the same as a regular education diploma,” said Mikayla McCormack, also a student speaker at the graduation event. “We may have had some troubles along the way, but we did what’s right. We came back.”
McCormack, who earned one of two Manchester Community College scholarships, said she thought she would be a high school dropout. But thanks to the support of her teachers and her dad, who supported her even when she didn’t believe in herself, she walked across the stage in a white cap and gown to receive her diploma.
“I can speak for everyone when I say, I hope you all become very successful in life,” she said.
Graduate Joshua Tate, who Adult Education teacher Alan LaBranche called one of his best students and a hard worker, also earned a Manchester Community College Scholarship.
“Josh works all day in his family’s business, but he would come to class ready to learn and he was always smiling,” LaBranche said. “He has a strong work ethic and I know this scholarship will help him go on to own and manage his own business.”
Before presenting McCormack with her scholarship, Civics and Economics teacher James Choquette said she took more classes than he has ever known a student to take and through her efforts in the program displayed hard work and dedication.
The 17 students who graduated were Mitchell Case, Shannon Coburn, Shaina Cositgan, Ashley DiBenedetto, Sarah DiRocco, Caraline Falzone, Justin Follett, Travis Gilcreast, Kaylee Griffin, Stephanie King, Karalyn Martino, Mikayla McCormack, Jeffrey Mousseau, Brittany Perry, Makenzie Reeves, Mitchell Swanson and Joshua Tate.
“We are all very proud of you and your accomplishment,” Superintendent Nate Greenberg told the graduates. “You have demonstrated the power in you to imagine what you wanted to accomplish. The goals you set for yourself can be achieved. Your diploma is a symbol of your hard work.”
“You have the ability to steer the future in the direction you want,” School Board Chairman Leitha Reilly said in an address to the graduates. “I’m glad you will never have to ponder the question, ‘what if I had graduated?’”
Reilly told the graduates, with their diplomas in hand, that they can now dream bigger and go farther.
“We’re here, because like your parents and friends, we’re proud of you – proud you chose to earn that diploma and continue down the path of success,” she said. “Dream big and do not let any future ‘what if’s’ go unanswered.”
Adult Education teachers who addressed the graduates encouraged them to maintain a positive outlook on life and enjoy the journey.
“When you do something a lot, everything seems to become common. You become dull to the fact,” Choquette told graduates. “It’s not until your life changes that you look at life in a new light.”
Choquette said this group of adult education students are the best students out there – they are not on autopilot.
“They saw the plan ahead of them. They found their way to graduation and they know where they’re going,” he said.