Rewarding day for grads ages 17 to 64
By Josh O’Gorman
STAFF WRITER | June 21,2013
Photo by Chelsea Wright
The 2013 graduates the the Vermont Adult Learning Center stand together to say the pledge of allegiance, before they receive their diplomas.
Don’t give up.
That was the message offered by student speaker Stacie Griffin, 32, of Rutland, who received her general education development certificate and was honored during graduation ceremonies for Vermont Adult Learning on Friday evening at the College of St. Joseph.
The 15 students who participated in the GED, high school completion and adult diploma programs strolled down the aisle of Tuttle Hall, surrounded by friends and family. The high heels, flip flops and hiking boots worn by the graduates were symbolic of the students’ many walks of life.
The adult learning center in Rutland had 376 students this year, 70 of whom received diplomas or certificates.
“We provide basic literacy,” said Michelle C. Folger, VAL regional manager, prior to the ceremony. “We serve people who don’t have diplomas, and as well as some people who have already graduated and want to improve their skills.”
For Griffin, a mother of four with two stepchildren — all between 10 and 22 years old — her GED was not just for herself, but to set a positive example for her family.
“You can’t be hypocritical when you’re telling your children to get an education,” she said.
Every student had a unique path that brought them to Vermont Adult learning. For Winifred Witherbee, 64, of Wells, the decision to go back to school was born out of necessity. She dropped out of high school in the ninth grade, but a recent accident prevented her from returning to her manual labor job.
Witherbee was referred to VAL by Vermont Associates, which provides workforce development for older residents.
Her age was no barrier to bonding with her classmates, she said.
“All of them have always made me feel welcome. Age was never an issue,” said Witherbee, who received her adult diploma. “Walking through the doors of Vermont Adult Learning was the best thing I ever did.”
On the other end of the age spectrum was Rachel Konstant, 17, of Pittsford, who received her GED after being home-schooled her entire life. The aspiring singer-songwriter felt most challenged by the reading comprehension test, which in the end was one of her highest test scores, she said.
“This was totally worth it,” Konstant said. “It’s such a satisfying feeling once you’re done.”
For more information about Vermont Adult Learning, visit www.vtadultlearning.org.
Vermont Adult Learning
Class of 2013
Christine M. Bissitte, Abigail L. Blair, Jacqueline A. Burch, Ben M. Carroll, Brandy L. Collins, Meaghan V. Fields, Debbie A. Frederick, Stacie A. Griffin, Rachel M. Konstant, Amanda L. Langevin, Sydney M. McMorrow, Crystal L. Tobin, Jamie L. Tucker, Dylan M. Walden, Winifred M. Witherbee.