WATERVILLE — Though there weren’t even a dozen accepting diplomas Tuesday night, there was no shortage of pomp or circumstance for the 2018 graduates of Mid-Maine Regional Adult Community Education.
The program, which serves alternative Organizational Structure 92, which consists of Waterville, Winslow and Vassalboro; and Regional School Unit 18, which includes Oakland, Sidney, Belgrade, Rome and China, graduated 18 individuals, with just 11 attending commencement in the Trask Auditorium. Dozens of family members and friends attended.
The journey was longer for some than others. Samantha Boucher said she had been trying to get back to school for more than a decade. Addressing the crowd during student remarks, Boucher said her experience at the program had been a “roller-coaster ride of emotions, but in a good way.” She explained that she had tried to go back to school twice before, but had bad experiences both times.
Prior to her speech before the crowd, she said the Mid-Maine Regional Adult Community Education program was “hard, but a great program.” She said it was a welcoming environment.
“But now it worked out,” she said. “This is just awesome for me.”
Boucher praised the staff for their hard work, as well as her fellow graduates, while also thanking her mother, describing her as a “huge support person for me, and I love you so much.”
“Congratulations class of 2018, we got here,” she said.
For David Frappier, it took four years to get back to school. Addressing those gathered in Trask, he said it had been a “hard four years” with a lot of “bumps and bruises along the way.” But, he made it, and on May 29, was accepting his high school diploma. He said once he made up his mind to go back to school and get that diploma, he was able to make more directed decision that allowed him to focus on school.
“Now I am able to apply for jobs and show I have a high school diploma,” he said.
Prior to taking the stage, Frappier said there had been plenty of times he felt like quitting, but said everyone in the faculty had been helpful along the way.
“I would encourage anyone looking to earn a diploma or a GED to make an appointment with the Mid-Maine Regional Adult Community Education program,” he said.
A third student speaker, Alexis Romano, said she went through the HiSET, which is a high school equivalency test. She dropped out of school her freshmen year, and was unsure she’d ever make it back into school. But eventually, she knew she needed a diploma, and the HiSET path seemed best for her. She was 16 when she decided to take the test, and had to wait a year. So she spent that year studying and preparing with the faculty at the Mid-Maine Regional Adult Community Education program.
“Now I get to stand here with a diploma I didn’t think I’d be able to get,” she said.
Keynote speaker Sarah Sugden, who is the director of the Waterville Public Library, said it was a big responsibility to find the right words to honor the graduates for all their hard work and celebrate their achievements, which she said were “tremendously worth celebrating.” She said the graduates knew the strength and courage it took for them to get to that auditorium Tuesday night.
“You know what bravery is really required to stick to your dream,” she said. “And strength is needed to not let go.”
Sugden said the graduates’ accomplishments will open doors going forward, and said they were beginning a new step in their lives. She said they “deserve that future, you deserve that opportunity, you deserve that good fortune.”
“We all here believe in you, too,” she said. “We can’t wait to see what you graduates do next. We can’t wait.”
Hannah Bard, the director of the Mid-Maine Regional Adult Community Education program, said these graduates had “moved mountains to get new opportunities. They continued to move mountains while in our program.” For adults trying to come back to school, Bard said things can get in the way more easily than when they were initially in school: jobs, families, households.
“They didn’t give up when things were tough,” Bard said. “They’ve inspired me to push harder, to never give up.”
Colin Ellis — 861-9253