On a recent Thursday in the Dover High School Auditorium, 80 graduates joined in celebration at the Dover Adult High School Graduation; in total 235 received their high school credentials this year through the Dover Adult Learning Center. At the ceremony Dover Mayor, Dean Trefethen, spoke about overcoming obstacles; Superintendent of Schools, Jean Briggs Badger, told the graduates that they stand at the threshold of a new chapter in their lives.
Each year, a former student is invited back to speak to and inspire the graduating class. Beata Umugwangwali, DALC Class of 1997, is a survivor of the Rwandan Genocide. She fled Rwanda in 1994 and began taking classes at Dover Adult Learning Center in 1995. She says she is grateful to everyone who helped her reach her goal. “You can overcome obstacles.” Umugwangwali was honored for her achievements, by the DALC Board of Directors, as the 2013 Distinguished DALC Graduate.
Brandi Bilodeau and Danielle Goldstein received scholarships of $750 each for post-secondary education from the Dover Rotary Club. The Rotary also provides smaller scholarships throughout the year for GED testing fees and adult high school tuition in addition to the $1,500 in graduation scholarships for post-secondary education. Four additional scholarships were given out, some in the name of current and former teachers who have inspired generations of students at DALC.
There were also three essay contest winners recognized at graduation. One is currently incarcerated. In his essay, read by his teacher, he said the key for him was baby steps; he had to start somewhere and was soon surprised by his level of commitment. Another never expected to be in this situation –needing a GED- and felt ashamed. She found the staff, kind and supportive and with renewed confidence, courage and skills, has plans to go onto college. The third, a single mom, with a 5-year-old, says she never thought she could find the time, but a year later she has her GED in hand, is enrolled in a tech program and on her way to her dream of a career in the medical field.
Each of these educational journeys was guided in part by the staff of the Dover Adult Learning Center. Throughout the year, there are Adult Basic Education Classes, day and evening, at multiple levels, taking place in the classrooms of the McConnell Center; as well as Rochester, Farmington, Milton and the Strafford County House of Corrections. Counselors are on hand to test and place the students in the appropriate class, and match them with a tutor if need be.
DALC also has a daycare center adjacent to the classrooms in the McConnell Center, helping many students overcome what can be one of the biggest obstacles to high school completion. On the third floor of the McConnell Center, DALC supports a state-of-the-art computer lab, providing both class time and open public lab time.
In 2014, Dover Adult Learning Center will begin preliminary online high school equivalency testing using the HiSET program developed by nonprofit Educational Testing Service (ETS) and the University of Iowa’s Iowa Testing Program (ITP), which was selected by the NH Bureau of Adult Education to replace the expiring GED® test. Beginning in 2014, the state will no longer use the GED® Students who have completed only part of the GED test have until the end of the year to complete all five sections or must begin anew in 2014.
Dover Adult Learning Center stands ready to assist students wherever they may be on their educational journey. DALC celebrated 40 years of transforming lives through education this school year and looks forward to next 40. Adult Basic Education classes are being held this summer and throughout the year. Students can find out more online at http://www.dalc-online.org/ and can make an appointment to meet with a counselor by calling 603-742-1030.