POLAND – More than 200 people celebrated the successes of students in the Bakerstown Alternative and Mechanic Falls-Poland Adult Education programs at the Poland Town Hall on May 14.

Superintendent Nina Schlikin, Dr. Ira Levine, chairman, and Peter Bolduc of the Poland School Committee, and Joyce Crane, chairwoman of the Mechanic Falls School Committee, awarded diplomas.

Forty-three students earned adult high school diplomas and General Educational Development (high school equivalency) diplomas. Schlikin scrapped her speech and sang a congratulations that evoked tears from many graduates.

John David Paradis, who died in the fall of 2003, was remembered. Uncle and school board member Bolduc awarded Paradis’ diploma to Paradis’ 2-year-old son, John Jr.

Before a stage graced with red geraniums, graduates spoke of the obstacles they had overcome and presented flowers to the relatives, friends and educators who had supported them in their educational journeys.

Director Dr. Nancy E. Watson read a letter of congratulations to the graduates from Rep. Lois Snow-Mello. Watson thanked the program staff for their outstanding dedication to their students. Levine congratulated the graduates on their perseverance and accomplishments.

Students and community members were presented engraved plaques for outstanding performance:

Town Manager Dana Lee, Outstanding Leadership for Mechanic Falls Municipal Renovation Project,

Assistant Town Manager John Hawley, Outstanding Leadership for Mechanic Falls Municipal Renovation Project,

Scott Segal, director, Poland Recreation Department, for Outstanding Community Service,

Bethany Kahkonen, Bakerstown Alternative High School Program, for Leadership and Service,

Mayra Cano, Adult Education, for Outstanding Academic Achievement,

Dawn Vono, Adult Education, for Courage to Grow Award from Central Maine Community College.

Bakerstown Teacher/ Coordinators Gary Crook and Catherine Parker presented the following awards: Bethany Kahkonen, Leadership and Service and Jillian Pelletier, Bakerstown for Service to Students.

Watson said the graduates have done more than earn a piece of paper. They have learned they can learn, they have learned they can set goals and achieve their goals. In essence, the graduates have learned how to transform their lives; to this end, the graduates are moving onto new challenges. Graduate plans include Nashville Auto Diesel College, Central Maine Community College, nursing, dental assisting, veterinary technician, real estate, cosmetology, wrestling school, business administration and working in a family business.

Nine are getting a job or promotion, 18 are pursuing college/vocational degrees and 13 are joining the military.

The evening concluded in the Bakerstown Classroom at the Poland Town Hall where guests and graduates were served refreshments.

The 2004 graduates are: Craig Arsenault, Jeremy Guerrette, Jillian A. Pelletier, Katheryn E. Barrett, Daren M. Haslip, Lawrence S. Potvin, Michael R. Belanger, Amy A. Ivy, Jennifer A. Provencher, Nicholas J. Bouchard, David A. Jama, Shawn M. Ruhlin.

Also, Mayra P. Cano, Rachael L. Jenkins, Zachary E. Seelow, Kailyn Carbonneau, Bethany Kahkonen, Tyler E. Slack, Joseph Castonguay, Alissa B. LaClaire, Curtis M. Small, Paul R. Cote Jr., Valerie A. Leung, Franklin I. Strout.

Also, Jonathan K. Dubuc, Gerald Mahoney, Matthew S. Sullivan, Mark A. Game, Scott M. May, Tammy J. Van Tassel, Roland R. Gauthier, Sarah A. Merrill, Dawn M. Vono, Thomas A. Granger, Richard T. Page, John D. Paradis, Brendon L. Pelletier.

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