Family, friends and educators gathered Monday to celebrate Londonderry Adult Education graduates’ perseverance through tough times and the bright future that lies ahead.
“We’ve fought to get here – against adversity, against what other people thought we could do. Sometimes, against what we thought of ourselves. And we did it. And I’d like to think we’re all stronger for it,” said Meg Plourde, student speaker from the graduating class who overcame a difficult struggle with anxiety to complete the program and earn her high school diploma.
School Board Chairman Steve Young said the group reminds him of the crocus flower, a tenacious early spring flower that pushes up through snow, ice and rock to bloom.
“They always come up, no matter how hard the ground is frozen,” Young told the graduates. “That’s what you have done by getting through this program. Tonight, when you throw your hats – think about the crocus and the fact you have emerged and can get through anything. My best employee was one of you guys. She’s a single mom with three kids, and she’s going to run the company someday.”
“These graduates and their families never gave up in their relentless pursuit of a high school diploma,” Alternative Education Director Amity Ferraro said. “Each of you have shared life lessons with members of the faculty and each other.”
Ferraro said she thinks about the students in her program after she leaves the building, and said working with them is the highlight of her days.
“You guys ground me, because you guys matter,” she said.
The June 2015 graduates presented with a diploma at the ceremony are Kathleen Arrigo, Adam Beaudoin, Curtis Benedict, Skylynn Collins, Joseph Davison, Samantha Emerson, Victoria Hampton, Jonathan Keating, Amy Lavoie, Lindsey Morlock, Shicora Pearce, Meg Plourde, Declan Rutledge, Anthony Santostefano, Autumn Secchiaroli, Sean Sullivan and Nicholas White.
The celebration featured a moving vocal performance of the Class Song, “Home,” by Philip Phillips, sung by graduate Skylynn Collins and accompanied by teacher Casey Roop on the guitar.
Victoria Hampton and her family were surprised with the announcement that she is the winner of a scholarship for three college credits.
“It’s really rewarding,” Hampton, who plans to attend the New Hampshire Technical Institute starting in the fall, said of being recognized for her efforts in the program.
“She worked so hard to get to where she is,” said Aubrey Hampton, Victoria’s father.
Plourde concluded her address to the graduating class by reminding them of that work ethic, encouraging them to “go out there and do amazing things.
“We’ve got the tenacity, the strength of will to move mountains. We didn’t give up, and that’s all that matters,” Plourde said. “To everyone who believed in us, even when we didn’t believe in ourselves – thank you. It means the world.”