On Monday evening, Jan. 8, the Adult Education program at Londonderry High held its Winter Commencement, delivering 21 diplomas to the graduates attending the event out of the 24 that were listed.
A large crowd of students, friends, family, teachers, and staff members gathered in the high school gymnasium for the ceremony.
The program holds two ceremonies each year, one in the Spring and the other during the Winter. In each ceremony, some of the graduates also passed the HiSet, which is the NH High School Equivalency Test, a test that has replaced the GED (General Educational Development).
The director of the Adult Education program, Crystal Rich, welcomed the crowd and introduced the attendees to the class of graduates, and also introduced the speakers throughout the evening.
Frank Edelblut, the Commissioner of the NH Department of Education, was the first guest to speak. He served a short anecdote and life lesson to the graduates, showing them a crisp $50 bill. He explained that no matter how the bill treated, crumpled, stepped on or thrown to the ground, the bill has the same value. He said, “The time you have spent in this program has given you inherent value that you will take with you for the rest of your life and no matter what happens, you have that value.”
Superintendent, Dan Black, and School Board Chair, Bob Slater, also gave congratulatory remarks.
Three student speakers were also brought to the stage. Arden Rynasko, Alianna Verani, and Cassidy Perry delivered heart-felt stories of how they made it to the graduation.
Rynasko explained his struggles with fitting in to the structure of regular school. He said that enrolling in Adult Ed was one of the best decisions he ever made for himself. He was greatful for the opportunity to graduate early with perfect grades, a good job and plans to go to college.
Verani addressed her struggles with anxiety depression over the past eight year, with the pandemic making it worse. She explained that the Adult Ed program gave her the opportunity to ask for help and get through some of her emotional struggles. She said, “I believe every student deserves a round of applause for any accomplishment and every milestone they’ve gone through to get here tonight.” She finished by saying, “We will face challenges and obstacles outside of here, but those will only make us stronger.”
Perry shared her experience of high school while being pregnant and having to leave before finishing. She told the crowd that the Adult Ed program gave her the opportunity to graduate after giving birth to her daughter and she worked very hard to receive her diploma. She said, “They say it takes a village to raise a child, but I feel it takes a village to live a life.”
Makayla Mentus was brought to the stage for the Blue Star Lancers presentation. Mentus will be entering the US Marine Corp. later in the year.
Adult Ed English Teacher, Jaclyn Hoffmann, was the Staff Speaker at the ceremony.
She told the crowd that despite her fear of public speaking and being taken out of her comfort zone, she has found inspiration in the graduates. She said, “As you head toward your future, I hope you’ll continue to push yourselves. Remember, you are capable of achieving your goals as long a you make that leap.”
After the presentation of Scholarships, Awards, and Diplomas, Rich gave a few closing remarks and sent the graduates into the world as graduates.
Tragically, less than 24-hours later, the first graduate of the evening, Chase Picard-Arnold of Hooksett, lost his life in a weather-related automobile accident along Route 102 in Londonderry.
There is currently a Picard Family GoFundMe site established to raise money for the family of Chase. According to police, the accident is still being investigated.