If there is one word that applies to adult education, it is resilience. “Every adult learner has overcome obstacles to achieve their goals,” says Deanna Strand, executive director at Dover Adult Learning Center of Strafford County. “Each of our 104 graduates faced some interruption to their traditional high school education. Some due to an illness, others family turbulence or personal responsibilities, and many mental health or addiction.”
More than 30 graduates took part in a commencement ceremony held at Dover High School on June 20. The distinguished graduate and featured speaker was Isles Maskell, a 2022 graduate, who received a standing ovation after sharing his story.
Maskell described feeling unsafe as a child, moving a lot, going to many different schools, feeling that he just couldn’t do math. By high school he was in trouble and ended up in jail. There he met Minnett Induisi, DALC teacher, who encouraged and believed in him. Isles enrolled at Dover Adult Learning Center three more times before successfully completing his HiSET in 2022. There were many starts and stops but he never gave up.
Maskell says when he saw the test results pop up on the screen, at the completion of his final exam, he started to cry, “For once in my life, I achieved something.”
Strand presented Maskell with a commendation that recognized among his many achievements; his having maintained the highest GPA in his plumber apprentice class; advocating for himself before the State Board of Mechanical Safety and Licensing to appeal acceptance requirements; and his willingness to ask for and accept help to achieve his goals.
The adult high school students received their diplomas from William Harbron, Ed.D. Superintendent, Dover Schools and Carolyn Mebert, Chair, Dover School Board, Harbron offered congratulations and encouragement, “You’ve shown incredible strength of character and determination. Surround yourself with people who uplift and inspire you and strive to be the best version of yourself.”
Dover Mayor Robert Carrier also spoke, telling the students that attending the DALC graduation each year is a source of inspiration to him every time.
In a letter of congratulations, US Senator Jeanne Shaheen encouraged students to continue their personal and professional growth and hold on to their passion for learning and drive for success.
US Congressman Chris Pappas wrote that students should take great pride in their dedication to learning, enhancing their skills, and improving their lives. “It is your determination to succeed that has led you to be here today.”
Each year, students have the opportunity to win small cash awards for completing an essay that shares how their DALC experience has impacted self-confidence, led to a new opportunity and/or helped create a path to economic self-sufficiency.
One of the essay contest winners, Jennica Robidoux, of Dover, plans to pursue a career in early childhood education, growth and development.
Additional scholarships, funded by the Rotary Club of Dover, were presented by Rotarians Nick Pellman and Cathy Beaudoin.
Presentation of high school equivalency certificates were made by Shawn Mahoney, president, DALC board and DALC Counselors Pam Shaw and Tracey Donaldson.
Students earned their equivalency certificates through the HiSET® test, which has been the state option for about 10 years. Starting this fall, NH students also will be able to take the test through the GED® system.