LEWISTON — Lewiston Adult Education on Tuesday celebrated 42 students earning their high school equivalency degrees in the last academic year. The class of 2024 saw a 28% increase in the number of graduates, up from 30 in 2023.

Families, friends and faculty filled Lewiston High School’s gymnasium to see the graduates off to the next stage of their lives.

In his speech, valedictorian Ryan Turcotte drew attention to the importance of breaking generational cycles.

“My father had to drop out of high school to support his family, as did his father before him. In fact, all the men in my family have had to stop going to school due to military service or economic needs. This milestone represents not only a personal achievement but also a significant step towards breaking the cycle of limited educational opportunities within my family,” Turcotte said.

Lewiston Adult Education Marketing Coordinator Mike Reagan takes a photo Tuesday night of graduate Hannah Poulin and her family at the adult education graduation at Lewiston High School. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

“I believe that I have blazed an easier path for my son,” he added. Turcotte is enrolled at Central Maine Community College for Business Administration. He hopes to start a real estate business in the future.

Some graduates have had long journeys. Melissa Payne had to drop out of high school at 16. She made the choice to go back for her degree after a 20-year hiatus.

Justin Hart gives his daughter Jasmine a hug Tuesday night before the adult education graduation at Lewiston High School. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Some others, like Fanek Herrmann, have gone through many different programs. “The journey overall was my biggest challenge,” he said.

“When we have our downs, there will always be an up. Ebbs and flows,” said soon-to-be graduate Courtney Rose Chabot. She plans to attend Spa Tech Institute in Westbrook to become an esthetician.

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