June 13, 2014

“Take every opportunity you are presented with.” – Honoring Ceremony at New Horizons

Posted in 50 Joy Drive, Events, New Horizons Educational Program, Residential, Teen Pregnancy Prevention Outreach tagged , , , , , , , , at 11:54 am by Lund

Students, teachers, family and friends had reason to celebrate on Tuesday as New Horizons Educational Program held the Honoring Ceremony to honor graduates, those who made academic progress and the participants in our teen pregnancy prevention outreach program.  Less than half of teen mothers graduate from high school  (stayteen.org) because it’s incredibly difficult to juggle parenthood and school.  Our students have worked so hard to meet the challenges they face.  A high school diploma is a key step towards future success for themselves and their families.  As one graduate said, “I don’t want to be the mom telling my kids to stay in school and to graduate when I didn’t do it myself.”

Barbara Rachelson, Executive Director of Lund, began the ceremony with words of welcome and advised the students to remember that they can and should learn something every day.  Vermont State Treasurer Beth Pearce was one of the keynote speakers and she spoke about the importance of financial literacy and making plans for the future recognizing that graduation was the an essential starting step towards this future.  The second keynote speaker was Lund graduate Maghon Luman who currently works at the Community Justice Center in the Offender Reentry program which provides support to people leaving prison.  She spoke of how, at 23 years old, she had everything she could have wanted – a great job, nice house, car, loving husband and baby daughter – but how becoming an addict took all that from her.  She credits her recovery and her current success as an employed and stable parent to her commitment to embracing every opportunity.  “Take every opportunity you are presented with and if there isn’t an opportunity, make one for yourself.  Work hard to create the chances you need and be persistent.”  She also offered her congratulations to the students, “Whatever you have completed today, school, a grade or even a class, be very proud of yourself.”

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Maghon addresses the crowd.

New Horizons teacher, Kathy Rossman, presented six young women with their high school diplomas and echoed Barbara’s statement by urging them to continue their education every day and to educate their children as well.  Certificates were also awarded to students who had made academic progress and to those who had participated in Lund’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Outeach Program.  Laura May Ackley who runs this program takes willing young mothers to schools to present the reality of teen pregnancy.  It is such a powerful teaching tool for students but can also be scary and sensitive for the moms presenting.  “I’ve seen your moments of weakness and I’ve seen your strengths,” said Laura May.  “I’ve seen your beauty and I’ve seen your scars.  Thank you for sharing your stories.”

Crystal Parent, one of the six graduates, was presented with the Kit Stone Humanitarian Award which is awarded each year to a young woman who had taken opportunities presented to her and made them work for herself, her family, her peers and her community.  Crystal is a successful graduate of New Horizons and recently left Lund’s residential program where she had been living with her two children.  Shes is now participating in a food services training program and learning valuable skills for future employment.  Treasurer Pearce read a letter from Governor Peter Shumlin congratulating Crystal on her achievement, “Completing one’s diploma is a major milestone, but I understand that you did not stop at educating yourself; you went on to share your knowledge with others at outreach events across Vermont.  I commend you for your hard work, for giving back to the community, and for you commitment to your future.”

Crystal with Vermont State Treasurer Beth Pearce as she reads a letter from Governor Shumlin.

Crystal with Vermont State Treasurer Beth Pearce as she reads a letter from Governor Shumlin.

By coming to New Horizons Educational Program and juggling the complexities of being a young mother, each of these students is showing their commitment to being in the 50% that do graduate from high school.  They are doing it for their themselves, of course, but more importantly they are doing it for their children.

Graduation Day for one hard working student, seen here with NHEP teacher Kathy Rossman.

Graduation Day for one hard working student, seen here with NHEP teacher Kathy Rossman.

To see a wonderful news coverage of this event, please click here

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