ELLSWORTH — The Ellsworth High School auditorium was full last Monday evening with friends, family members and burbling babies celebrating Ellsworth Adult Education’s 2019 graduating class.
The ceremony recognized those receiving high school diplomas, college transitions and certified nursing assistant certificates, as well as six students who were inducted into the National Adult Education Honor Society.
The program’s Director Annie Sargent began the evening with a winged analogy: the bee.
“Bees have a strong work ethic and they stop and smell the flowers,” Sargent said.
“Bees are integral to human existence, just as education is … Bees live and work as a community. They enrich the world and serve their hive community in meaningful ways, particularly when it brings joy. They defend the underdog with fierceness.”
Many of the graduates juggled full-time jobs and families while completing the program. Several of the certified nursing assistant graduates who had been working at Sonogee Rehabilitation and Living Center also grappled with layoffs when the Bar Harbor facility closed earlier this year.
The programs, said instructor Emily Nash, are designed to aid students throughout their high school and college careers.
“We love that learners think of Ellsworth Adult Education as a lifelong learning resource,” said Nash when awarding a college transitions certificate to Carly Freeman.
Freeman went through the high school completion program several years ago, alongside her father and grandmother. She went on to take courses at Southern Maine Community College and returned to Ellsworth Adult Education for support in her transition to the University of Maine at Fort Kent to study conservation law enforcement.
The appreciation went both ways on Monday.
“If my child was sick or we couldn’t make it for some reason she worked extra hours,” said Bethany Baldwin, referring to nursing instructor Joanne Hicks.
“Whatever we needed she was there.”
Coordinator Rebecca Alley said she admired students for their courage.
“It takes bravery to breathe life into your goals, to challenge yourself, to shake things up, to put yourself in a place where you will likely meet challenges, to make your thoughts and dreams into your reality,” Alley said. “It has been incredibly inspiring to see all of you do that every day.”