SCAE graduates take control of their futures
By Shawn P. Sullivan
Sanford News Editor
Posted Jun. 10, 2016 at 12:06 PM
SANFORD - At first Brittany Dixon didn't want to attend Sanford Community Adult Education.
She had given birth to her daughter while a student at Noble High School. She liked Noble High and enjoyed seeing her friends and playing sports there. She tried staying in school and keeping up with her classes, but as a student and a parent she was exhausted all the time. Given the responsibilities of motherhood, Dixon often would be late to class and, once she was there, she'd feel stressed because she missed her daughter.
Dixon's aunt suggested she attend Sanford Community Adult Education (SCAE). That was the last thing she wanted to do. She didn't want to drop out of school, but, once she finished her junior year, that's precisely what she had to do. If she was going to continue her education, SCAE would have to be the route she took. So she enrolled.
And the result?
"Honestly, coming to adult ed was one of the best decisions I could have made," Dixon told her fellow graduates and all of the friends and families during SCAE's commencement ceremony at the Memorial Gym on Wednesday, June 8.
And Dixon got to graduate right on schedule too, as she had been a member of Noble's Class of 2016 when she attended there.
"I am proud of myself and thankful for SCAE for making that possible," she said from the podium on the Memorial Gym's stage.
Next up for Dixon?
"I plan to attend (York County Community College) and major in behavioral health," she said. "I will continue to work throughout the summer and for the rest of my life on the skills I need to keep moving forward in my life."
Nate Lewis also shared his story with fellow graduates and the audience on June 8. He said he loves history but struggled with his own education while a student at Sanford High. As a junior, he dropped out. Academia still called him, however, and he started taking classes at SCAE.
"I was finally able to learn things I just couldn't grasp elsewhere," he said.
Ashley Vance moved to Sanford from Dixfield about a year ago and enrolled at SCAE to earn her high school diploma.
"Here, I've learned many ways to be successful and accomplish things," she told the other graduates and those in the audience. "Getting my high school diploma today means so much to me. A lot of people doubted that I would get it. Well, now I'm standing up here, getting my diploma, just like I told everyone I would. I'm so proud of myself and I'm grateful for the support of my family and friends."
All three students thanked their teachers for making a positive difference in their lives.
As the ceremony began, the graduates all marched into the gym to Elgar's "Pomp & Circumstance" and took their seats in front of the stage. Superintendent of Schools David Theoharides welcomed everyone and honored the graduates for "days, hours, months, years of hard work."
Representing U.S. Sen. Angus King, Bonita Pothier offered three pieces of advice to the graduates: do not fear failure; treat every job you get as the best and only job in the world; and appreciate and value your family and friends.
Yaser Aali and Sahar Hassan and their family led everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance. Aali and Hassan are both English as a Second Language students at SCAE and are new U.S. citizens as well.
State Rep. Anne Marie Mastraccio addressed the graduates as the night's keynote speaker. Mastraccio applauded the graduates for the courage it took for them to pursue their education. She also stated that an educated workforce is the most important key to the economy, and she told the graduates that they're key to the community's success.
"Maybe you haven't thought of yourself as community investments, but that's what you are," Mastraccio said.
Mastraccio encouraged the graduates to vote, advised them not to rely solely on Facebook and Twitter for their news, and asked them to advocate for adult education, as some people "do not believe adult education is necessary."
"We are a community that cares for you, and we're rooting for you every step of the way," she said.
SCAE Director Allen Lampert delivered his address to the graduates, telling those gathered that he and his colleagues are in the "change business," transforming unemployment into employment, illiteracy into literacy, hopelessness into hope. "That is what we do," Lampert asserted and noted that the mission is a challenge because changing is hard and requires courage, honesty, willingness and hard work.
"Our students come to SCAE suffering, and you help them to heal," Lampert told SCAE's teachers in the audience.
Lampert encouraged the graduates to do for current or potential SCAE students what was done for them.
"How can you provide hope to others?" he urged them to consider.
During the ceremony, Dixon and Lewis both received $500 scholarships from the Sanford-Springvale Rotary Club and fellow graduates Jacob Rock and Jessica Carter each received $500 scholarships from York County Senior College.
Lampert presented graduate Annabelle Cappello with SCAE's prestigious Outstanding Student Award, given each year to an individual who shows self motivation, potential for achievement, support for others and a recognition that education helps one reach goals.
While all could not attend the ceremony, here are all of the graduates of SCAE's Class of 2016: Tiffany A. Berry; Alicia Boonen; Annabelle Cappello; Jessica Carter; Jen Chick; Isaac Daigle; Brittany Dixon; David Dubois; Kimberly Goodwin; Kassandra Grant; Autin Ham; Katelin Howe; Joseph Lee; Nathaniel Lewis; Owen Marquis; Emma Merusi; Angela Putnam; Tyler Ramsdell; James Reed; Jacob Rock; Austin Sanderson; Sierra Schuchmann; Dustin Stevens; Ashley Vance; Peter Wentworth; and David Whitehead.
Judy Dube, Diane Lawrence, Deborah Lint and Edwina Sprague all earned their Administrative Support Staff Professional and Computer Applications Professional certificates in SCAE's Employment Skills Program. Lawrence, Lint and Sprague earned their Medical Office Support Staff Professional Certificates as part of the program, as well.
Melissa Flores and Samantha Russell both received their certificates for completing SCAE's Maine College Transitions Program.
Annabelle Cappello, Brittany Dixon, Samantha Russell and Sierra Schuchmann all received their certificates for completing SCAE's Families READ Family Literacy Program.
And, as a result of all their hard work, SCAE graduates Cassandra Belmore, Tricia Sanford, Zenab Shaikh and Jeffrey Windom are all now certified nursing assistants.
Posted by Sue Colley on July 28, 2016