TOWNSHEND -- It was not a given that Alisha Scudder would be among the students graduating Saturday from Leland & Gray Union High School.
In fact, Scudder didn't even set foot inside the Townshend school until 2011.
But school administrators are praising her for overcoming difficult and constantly shifting circumstances to get her diploma. And Scudder seems just as proud.
"All the time, I thought I wasn't going to make it through this," she said.
It would be an understatement to say Scudder has had difficulty putting down roots. Taken from her birth mother at age 7, she remained in the state's custody until age 13, when she was adopted.
And things have been far from steady since, as Scudder -- now 19 -- has continued to move from place to place.
"I've been at three different high schools in the last four years," she said.
Scudder is modest and her manner is understated, saying only that "it's kind of hard" without elaborating. She chooses instead to talk about her school work.
"It's more about focusing on getting your credits and getting your high school diploma," she said.
Scudder said her adoptive parents, Robin and Hervey Scudder, "have been very supportive the last couple of years."
And, while Scudder's time at Leland & Gray has been short, it's clear that she has benefited from it. She has taken an interest in science, and she worked as a student helper for an after-school program at
"I was kind of looked at as a role model while I was there, which felt good," she said.
Scudder also has made a connection with Leland & Gray staff.
"I felt like the school was really supportive when I was applying for college," she said.
That support included helping Scudder secure scholarship assistance, which she is entitled to under Vermont law because she had been in the foster-care system. Scudder said the scholarships "really helped," and she will attend Lyndon State College in northeastern Vermont.
Melanie Zwolinski, Leland & Gray's director of student services, praised Scudder's "ability to persevere" in spite of so many distractions outside the classroom.
"She'll make it," Zwolinski said. "I have no doubt that she'll be successful."
Scudder is looking forward to a brighter future. This weekend, she will take the first step.
"It's just going to feel really good to have accomplished this," she said.
Mike Faher can be reached at email@example.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.