NEWPORT — Although only 18 students from around the NEK chose to take part in the cap and gown ceremony at Lyndon State College on June 29th, 66 NEK residents, ranging in age from their upper teens to their 60’s, received high school diplomas after entering and completing the “High School Completion Program” through Northeast Kingdom Learning Services (NEKLS).
Executive Director Michelle Tarryk spoke to the packed room of well-wishers and the 18 present graduates, reading a letter out loud from one of the grateful students opted out of the ceremony only because she doesn’t care for occasions that place her in the limelight:
“I never thought I would have been a student at this fine establishment and had fate not intervened, I would never have had the opportunities provided me by the center. The dedication of the staff is why students succeed. I have lived in this area for over 30 years and until recently I did not know this wonderful program existed. The program and its advisors offered me hope, change, and challenge, three vital components for a successful life. Life is not a series of simple steps; it is complicated and demanding. There are times we want to give up and settle for mediocrity, like I did, but, this school showed me the path that leads out and away of that uninspired style of thought,” the student wrote and Tarryk shared.
The graduate continued, “Thanks to NEKLS, I have a new job, career path, and plans to continue post- secondary education. My gratitude is heartfelt; thank you one and all. To all who are seeking a better life, NEKLS can provide you with footing so you are able to take those first steps toward creating a great life for yourself. We are evolving, never settle, seek knowledge, make mistakes. It’s how we learn and grow. Again, thank you from my heart. May this fine school continue to be the beacon for our community.”
Before introducing other speakers, Tarryk set that graduate’s letter down and gestured to the graduates present.
“Here are eighteen of seventy-two life stories that are being changed as we speak,” she said.
This is the first time NEKLS had one summer graduation ceremony for students working with NEKLS teachers all across the NEK.