MOUNT VERNON — This year’s Adult Basic and Literacy Education class adopted as its motto words of advice from Chinese philosopher Loa-tzu with a modern twist: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, go the distance!
Family and friends on Wednesday packed the Richard McLarnan Technology Center at the Knox County Career Center to celebrate those students who successfully went the distance and earned their high school general equivalency diplomas.
ABLE coordinator Mary Lou Jacklin welcomed the guests to the graduation and recognition ceremony and congratulated the students.
“I hope you see tonight not as a destination,” she said, “but as the beginning of a journey beyond the GED.”
Student speaker Marsha Boggs told of her journey to achieve her GED and the determination and hard work it took to reach that goal. She praised her husband, other family members and ABLE staff who supported her along the way.
“I didn’t think this day would ever come for me,” she said. “I never knew learning could be so much fun.”
She encouraged others to take the same steps.
“Believe me,” Boggs said. “You can do it and you will feel like a new person.”
Student speaker Laurie McManaway also thanked her family and the staff for helping her reach the dream of a high school diploma, and Vanessa Cummings said the ABLE program and GED has opened the gate to a garden of opportunities.
“Plant your own life’s garden,” she said.
Keynote speaker Matthew Wilbur, math teacher at Mount Vernon High School and once-and-future marathon runner, shared part of his life’s journey with the students and guests. He talked about his struggle with Parkinson’s disease and emphasized the importance of attitude in dealing with life’s setbacks.
“Bad things happen once in a while,” Wilbur said. “You can’t control that, but you can always control your attitude.”
Relating how he felt when he saw “DNF” (did not finish) after his name on a race results board, Wilbur said he didn’t like that feeling.
“You all,” he told the students, “for various reasons, got a high school DNF. Tonight you deserve a lot of credit for getting back up, for finishing the race and going the distance. You have the right attitude. ... May your cup, as mine is, be filled with blessings and good deeds. Congratulations.”
Before the GED certificates were presented, several students were recognized with special awards. Outstanding Effort awards were given to Leona Hellwig, Debra Rinehart and Robert VanRiper, students currently attending the ABLE program and working to earn their certificates.
Graduating student awards went to Adam Sobers, outstanding effort and outstanding attendance, and to Rachel Staggers, academic achievement award for the highest score on the GED test. Sharing a scholarship award are Sandra Mullins and Deborah Yoder.
The following GED recipients granted permission to have their names printed: Karen Bailey, Brittany Baugh, Miriam Beachy, Joshua Beckett, Shawn Beveridge, Marsha Boggs, Brandy Brubaker, Sarah Burkett, Adrian Butcher, Sabrina Butcher, Elaine Carson, Joshua Chapman, Austin Clouser, Vanessa Cummings, Brittany Davis, Tonia Davis, Justin DeAngelis, Kevin Fowler, Zachary Franz.
Misty Haynes, Richard Heald, David Hebesberger, Jacob Hershberger, Janay Holt, Adam Jacobs Jr., Ashley Johnson, Keith Jones, Dale Klein, Justin Knoff, Cody Knoll, Tera Kuhel, Rebecca Maxwell, Laurie McManaway, Carolyn Miller, Sandra Mullins, Tamra Newton, David Norris, Lydia Orahoske.
Teresa Patrick, Kimberly Pelton, Shawn Price, Jeffrey Randall, Dan Rousseau, Diana Russell, Kristina Seefeldt, Edward Smith, Adam Sobers, Rachel Staggers, Adam Stumbo, Robert Talbot, Ashley Ware, Donald Williams, Justin Wilson, Jennifer Wilson, Christopher Winters, Matthew Workman and Deborah Yoder.