LEWISTON — Lewiston Adult Education graduate Joao Massela stressed the importance of determination to 26 fellow graduates at ceremonies June 6 at Lewiston High School.

He urged them and the audience to think of themselves as strong as an elephant and to take on new challenges.

“Being strong and determined means facing the problem, working to solve it rather than crying and looking for the easy way,” he said.

Massela said that his middle name, Zau, means “elephant” and he took inspiration from it.

“I want you to be like an elephant too. I would like you to see yourself as strong, no matter the obstacle in front of you. Think that you can make it and never give up,” he said.

Massela, who emigrated to the U.S. from Angola and speaks Portuguese and French, had to learn English before trying to get his high school certification through Lewiston Adult Education. He thanked his teachers, including Laurie Champagne, Mark Schlotterbeck, Don Roux and Amy Hatch, for helping him.

Massela also won the Courage to Grow Award from Central Maine Community College in Auburn.

Esther Kilongo won the Maine Adult Education Association Award. The winner has tuition waived for one course at CMCC in the fall semester.

Roux received recognition for his role in assisting with the 5,000th GED-HiSET graduate at Lewiston Adult Education. Roux helps students prepare before they take their high school equivalency exam. The HiSET has replaced the GED in Maine.

Lewiston Schools Superintendent Bill Webster encouraged graduates to continue to persevere as they pursue their goals.

Lewiston Adult Education graduate Joao Massela addresses the class as Adult Education Director Bill Grant, left, and Adult Learning Center Coordinator Laurie Champagne listen.

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