BRATTLEBORO -- Mary Ide, quoting B.B. King, said "Nobody can take education away from you, and you can always get more."
And so, at the closing of the Vermont Adult Learning Center 2012 graduation ceremony on June 21, Ide, Windham Regional Manager of VAL, said "Congratulations." The graduates then moved their tassels from the left side of their caps to the right, signifying that they had officially graduated.
Ide presided over the ceremony.
She introduced all of the speakers and explained the significance of the hard work the graduates had done in completing their program. Ide spoke about the perseverance the graduates had shown in overcoming the obstacles that had hindered or complicated their learning process.
Pixie Loomis, executive director of VAL, welcomed the graduates and their families and friends.
"This is the most wonderful day of the year," Loomis said. "It is absolutely huge for you."
She then praised the staff at VAL, which earned great applause.
"The people in this room are people who told you that you could do it -- ‘Damn it, you will do it,’" Loomis said. "We want you to know how proud we are of each and every one of you."
Loomis became emotional as she spoke.
"I’m touched because these are faces I’m used to seeing every day."
Next, Janice Baldwin, GED chief examiner, spoke.
"A GED opens many doors. For some of you, you will get your first job,
"Bill Cosby, Chris Rock, and Michael Chang got their GEDs. One of you just celebrated your 16th birthday and one of you celebrated your 50th," Baldwin said. "Many traveled long distances to be here. The day after (Tropical Storm) Irene, two students drove two hours for class."
Like Loomis, Baldwin also praised the guests.
"Some did this on their own, others had supportive friends and families rooting for them."
Jay Callahan, Adult Diploma program assessor, spoke next.
"You now have the skills needed to make it in the world today," he said. He also discussed all of the hard work the graduates had done to reach where they were.
Callahan was followed by Cindy Holden, the high school completion plan manager, who discussed Act 176.
"Act 176 was passed six years ago and is the education reform act in Vermont," Holden explained. "Today, it is a resounding success."
Holden detailed the specific, individual plans that VAL works with the students to create.
"Life goals for students that focus on work, family, and community," she said.
After the speakers, the 30 graduates (more than 100 graduated, but not all were present) were given their diplomas amidst clapping, cheering, and photographing.
Ide spoke the closing words by citing the B.B. King quote.
"Education really does open doors," she said.