Rushanne Facey smiles on stage during the Ellsworth Adult Education graduation ceremony June 14 at Ellsworth High School, as a relative in the audience hollered out, “That’s my boy!” PHOTO BY STEVE FULLER

Ellsworth Adult Education grads savor success after life’s detours

ELLSWORTH — Annie Sargent has worked in the field of adult education for almost 30 years but still is impressed by the students she works with annually.

“I am still in awe of the achievements of the people on this stage tonight,” Sargent told the audience at the graduation ceremony for Ellsworth Adult Education at Ellsworth High School on June 14.

Sargent is the director of the adult education program. She told the parents, friends and other family members in the audience that everyone on her staff is “so proud” of each of the students.

Sixteen students received either high school diplomas or high-school equivalency degrees June 14. Two others, both now working in medical settings and wearing their scrubs at the ceremony, were recognized for completing the adult education program’s certified nursing assistant program. Another man was recognized for completing the office skills program offered by Ellsworth Adult Education.

Seven students were recognized as new members of the National Adult Education Honor Society: Dorothy Baldwin, Diana Childress, Trudi Clark, Lisa Gove, Kristina Lewis, Jennifer Marshall and Sasha Rolland.

Staff explained the criteria for membership in the honor society includes dependable attendance at classes, a cooperative attitude and a strong work ethic.

Sargent had something to say about each of the graduates as they crossed the stage, recounting how a feeling of not fitting in or a family tragedy such as a death or serious car accident had derailed their earlier educational efforts.

Sargent asked each student earlier what they would say to others considering taking the path they just completed and getting their diploma or other certificate.

Dorothy Baldwin, who learned on the morning of the 14th that she had just gotten a job, said her advice would be, “Just do it, and don’t give up!”

Graduate Mikaela Conley, who plans to go on and study occupational therapy, called her adult education experience “the biggest breath of fresh air she had ever experienced,” Sargent told the audience.

Jade Hill, another graduate, acknowledged the work was hard at times but “you’ve just got to do it.”

Sargent said for Chandler Levesque, “earning his diploma has changed his perception of what he can do and who he can be.” Likewise, Jennifer Marshall described her experience with adult education as “life-changing.”

Teacher Emily Nash told the audience she and other staff members feel “privileged” to work with the adult education students. She said it takes courage for anyone to walk through the doors of an adult education program, to decide to come back and earn a high school diploma. After that first trip, she said, it also takes persistence to keep coming back.

Rachel Kohrman-Ramos, who is the curriculum coordinator for the Ellsworth School Department, addressed the graduates as part of the ceremony. She spoke of how society has a “prescribed plan” for how people should go through life — 13 years of school, then go to college, get a job, get married — but said that is a disservice to many people.

“In reality, this timeline doesn’t work for us for many reasons,” she said. Referencing the central character in Maurice Sendak’s book “Where the Wild Things Are,” she said “many of us are Max” who do not do what is expected when it is expected.

She said those detours, however — those diversions from the expected plan — can and do eventually lead people to where they belong.

“Those are ultimately what bring us to what we each call home,” she said.

Steve Fuller

Steve Fuller

Reporter at The Ellsworth American,
Steve Fuller has worked at The Ellsworth American since 2012. He covers the city of Ellsworth, including the Ellsworth School Department and the city police beat, as well as the towns of Amherst, Aurora, Eastbrook, Great Pond, Mariaville, Osborn, Otis and Waltham. A native of Waldo County, he served as editor of Belfast's Republican Journal prior to joining the American. He lives in Orland. [email protected]