|Graduate Bianca Fahlin of Weare hugs one of her teachers Wednesday |
evening as she prepares to accept her diploma.
Union Leader Correspondent
LONDONDERRY -- Juggling their education with full-time jobs, life’s ongoing challenges and family responsibilities has been no easy feat for the 18 students in the most recent Adult Education class at Londonderry High School. On Wednesday evening, a small ceremony in the high school cafeteria marked a very important milestone for the nontraditional students: their long-awaited high school diplomas.
Greg Warren, the school’s assistant principal and head of the school’s Adult Education program for the past five semesters, advised his latest class to heed the very advice Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi offered to Luke Skywalker in the popular Star Wars series: “Who is more foolish? The fool or the fool who follows him?”
“The answer: It’s not the fool,” Warren told his students. “If you have a dream, reach for it and catch it. And if someone calls you a fool for that, don’t let it bother you.”
Their stories are as diverse as the students themselves. There’s the teenage mother who struggled to raise her infant while attending traditional high school classes, as well as others who, for various reasons, were unable to thrive within standard school settings.
Though most of this week’s graduates come from Londonderry and surrounding towns, others traveled as far as an hour each way to attend the district’s unique program.
“This program is really one of the crowning achievements of our school district,” high school Principal Jason Parent said.
Londonderry’s Adult Education program began six years ago under the watchful eye of then assistant principal and program director Jason Parent. After Parent was promoted to high school principal during the 2008-09 school year, Warren assumed the director position.
Parent said this week’s class is the 13th to complete their studies, with graduates earning bona fide high school diplomas rather than GED’s.
Weare resident Bianca Fahlin, one of this semester’s graduates, compared her own struggle to attain her high school diploma to the one waged by her godmother back in 1941.
“She never got a chance: Work got in the way,” Fahlin said, wiping away a tear. “Today though, all of us can leave here saying we did it.”
Fellow graduate and Weare resident Erika Wiggins struggled for her initial three years at John Stark Regional High School, though ultimately found her niche in the smaller, more personalized night classes offered at Londonderry High School.
“She took a night class here and loved it so much, she was willing to travel 40 minutes each way to get her diploma here,” her mother, Lisa Wiggins, said as she presented her daughter with a bouquet of flowers. “It’s been a wonderful program. She had a really great experience here.”
This year’s graduates are: Edward Anderson, Adam Brennan, Nicole Butchman, Aria Chetwynd, Ian DeLorme, Brittany DiBenedetto, Bianca Fahlin, William Fanjoy, Nicholas Ferrick, Ryan Francouer, Nicole Giorgi, Damein Lacasse, Maxwell Morlock, Kayla Peabody, Jianna Spina, Hanna VanHam and Erika Wiggins.