June 16, 2015

‘Any obstacle is worth overcoming’ – Honoring Ceremony 2015

Posted in 50 Joy Drive, Employees, Events, New Horizons Educational Program, Teen Pregnancy Prevention Outreach, Workforce Development Program tagged , , , , , , , , at 3:22 pm by Lund

Today is your day,” said Executive Director of Lund, Barbara Rachelson to the students of the New Horizons Education Program. “I know the path you took to get here today was not always easy or fun, and yet, you endured.  Parenting, pregnancy and being a student, each in their own right presents challenges.  There are lots of ways for you to find to not show up – if your baby is sick, if you didn’t get sleep, if you are having a hard day but you persevered.  I hope that you are glad that you did and you feel proud.  I certainly feel proud for you.”

Six graduates were celebrated for obtaining their high school diplomas at this year’s Honoring Ceremony. Many more students were recognized for academic achievement, college studies, participation in Lund’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Outreach Program, and attendance at Lund’s Workforce Development Program.  It was a joyful and very proud occasion.   New Horizons is Lund’s licensed education program for pregnant and parenting young women but it is so much more than just a school.  It is a place where students find acceptance, support and a community of peers and teachers committed to helping them be successful students and parents.    On a normal school day you are likely to find a teacher holding a baby while explaining how ions are made, students discussing how often their babies use pacifiers over lunchtime or a teacher helping a student follow up with a potential apartment rental during study hall.    Academic achievement and family support are weaved together through every aspect of the program.

Graduates from the Class of 2015 arrive at the Honoring Ceremony

Graduates from the Class of 2015 arrive at the Honoring Ceremony

The Honoring Ceremony is a time when students, family members, staff from NHEP and other Lund programs, community partners, members of the the Lund board, guests and friends come together to celebrate the students’ achievement and progress during the school year.  Babies and toddlers are integral members of the audience and crying (from children and proud adults alike!) is accepted and celebrated.   In addition to Barbara, this year’s ceremony saw speeches from Kim Coe, Director of Residential and Community Treatment Programs at Lund, Ryan Esbjerg from Flex Your Face and Lund Board President Sara Byers.  But the most powerful words came from the students themselves, many of whom stood up to read from speeches they had written.  Excerpts are given below:

“I would like to thank all who have pushed me to accomplish so much.  My daughter is my hope and motivation to get far in life.  Every student here has achieved so much, from doing their best to come to school every day with or without their kids to being able to ask questions when they get frustrated. ” – Brittany, 18, senior.

Mom and daughter addressing the crowd with their words of thanks and congratulation.

Mom and daughter addressing the crowd with their words of thanks and congratulation.

“I like the opportunity Lund gives us for school because it is a better place for us.  We are all teen and young adult moms and regular high school did not work for us.  High school was difficult because we all have kids.  Some of us are single moms and we don’t have people to watch our kids when we need to learn.  NHEP works for us.  When we need to learn, we can bring our kids with us.” – Fatumo, graduate.

“Three years ago I was supposed to graduate, but I put it aside.  I got pregnant and high school was no longer a priority.  With the help of Lund and my teachers I returned to school to finish my education.  They continued to push me to achieve greatness.  I have learned that any obstacle is worth overcoming.”   – Natalie, graduate.

“Every day I come to school and I’m surrounded with amazing and strong women who have struggled and been hurt but they are here choosing to change their life for themselves and for their children.  When you’re here you aren’t judged, you’re accepted and welcomed.  This program has changed my life and I couldn’t be more grateful.  Because of this program, I can watch my daughter grow into an amazing and smart girl while working hard to build our future.  Coming here was one of the best choices I have made for my daughter and myself.   I can finish school and still follow my dreams so when my daughter is older she can finish hers. ”  – Grace.  Student at NHEP since January.

The ceremony was followed by cake, photos and hugs and congratulations at every turn.  “It’s pretty much the best day of the year,” said Courtney Farrell, Assistant Director of Residential and Community Treatment Services, who couldn’t stop smiling all day.  Her feelings were shared by all, especially those students who left the ceremony with high school diplomas in their hands.

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