Pittsfield Adult Learning Center graduates overcome struggles
Photo Gallery | Pittsfield Adult Learning Center Graduation
PITTSFIELD -- Many among more than 50 area adults who received high school equivalency diplomas this year did so despite tremendous challenges, like parenthood, jobs, homelessness and drug problems.
As family, friends and local dignitaries filed into Crosby Elementary School for the graduation ceremony Tuesday, one felt a sense of the achievement in the room.
"I was truly blown away by the personal struggles some of our students faced while growing up, such as being abandoned by family," Pittsfield Adult Learning Center Director Paul Gage said. "These individuals were able to overcome their circumstances, because they had goals."
Force of will kept these students returning to the center on North Street, Gage said.
"I tackled each test, one by one, and now here I stand with the winning hand," student speaker Margaret Brown, 59, said. "Life gets in the way, but it's up to us to stay in the game, beat the obstacles and accomplish our goals."
Brown then recited an anonymous quote that brought the room to a standing ovation:
"The road to success is not straight. There is a curve called failure, a loop called confusion, speed bumps called friends, red lights called enemies, caution lights called family. You will have flat tires called jobs. But, if you have a spare called determination, an engine called perseverance, a driver called willpower, you will make it to a place called success," she said.
Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi said, "Graduation from high school is a real milestone for anyone, but I think it's an even greater one for you, because you recognize the value."
The mayor told Tuesday's graduates to continue the hard work and become "lifelong learners," well-schooled in the self-taught course of common sense.
"This should be a reminder that you have the capacity for tremendous achievement," Bianchi said. "I have every confidence that you'll continue with your education."
The executive director of Hilltown Community Development Corp., David Christopolis, who received his education degree in the mid-1980s, addressed the graduates as a "distinguished alumnus."
After dropping out of high school and years of soul-searching, Christopolis said he realized "education was the ticket," got his GED and went to community college.
"Ten years later, I had a master's degree. The GED got me that master's degree," Christopolis said.
"Knowledge of the world and how it works is what you get when you learn," Christopolis added. "I don't care what you learn. Just learn something; it's going to help you understand the world better."
Pittsfield Public Schools Superintendent Jason "Jake" McCandless also spoke.
"The power within you is great," he said. "Use it, treasure it, keep it growing."
Students April L. Haecker and Gabriella M. Lombardi received William Stickney Scholarships; Carolyn Y. Brown received the Linda Hermanski Positive Mindset Award; Adelaide A. Addy, Nicholas C. Laude and Tonia L. O'Brien received Perseverance Awards, and Christopolis received a Distinguished Alumni Award.
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2014 Adult Learning Center Graduates
Keri L. Astore, Misty A. Bentley, Kenneth L. Berkeley, Nicoleta V. Bianco, Dorian S. Bigelow*, Bernice Boateng, Jacqueline T. Boyd, Margaret M. Brown, Matthew L. Buffi, Shea M. Carrington, Ashley H. Catalano, Tayshialynn M. Chaloux*, Ticia L. Cormier, Anthony D. Dargi, Christina A. Delamater, Zachary C. Desjardins, Donovan Devaughn, Thomas M. DeZess*, Stephanie K. Donelan*, Lakeyia J. Frazier, Cassandra J. Gauthier, Aaron J. Gratton, April L. Haecker, Josiah L. Helmer, Jon F. Hurley*, Havah M. Icardi, Ernest J. Jean-Louis, Andre M. Johnson Jr., Elisabeth J. Kelsey*, Hannah M. Kingsley, Devin M. Levey, Kyle W. Lewis, Amanda R. Lively, Gabriella M. Lombardi, Wyatt McAllister, Diego A. Mendez Diaz, Stephanie A. O'Neill, Laura E. Otero, Amber L. Peckham, Austin D. Phillips, Thomas M. Reynolds, Chelsea G. Shetterly*, Jacqueline N. Sinopoli, Mario A. Spagnuolo*, Gerald A. Tucker, Cruz A. Vazquez, Michael J. Watford, Troy M. Wendling, David E. White, Jordan T. Williams*
* - Denotes Adult Diploma graduate
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