05/14/10 — Adult High School graduates turn tassels

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Adult High School graduates turn tassels

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on May 14, 2010 1:46 PM

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Dr. Kay Albertson, left, president of Wayne Community College, congratulates Candice Lancaster, commencement speaker and recipient of an adult high school diploma, during graduation ceremonies Thursday night.

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Jerimiah Waddell, right, is congratulated by family members after receiving his adult high school diploma during graduation ceremonies at Wayne Community College. Also pictured are Waddell's girlfriend, Jessica Howard, center, and daughter, Kelsie.

Jerimiah Waddell made the most of his moment Thursday night, as his name was called to receive an adult high school diploma at Wayne Community College.

He drew a breath, then took several steps forward and back, in a brief dance before crossing the stage.

The pride was evident, as he raised his arms in a mock cheer.

It had been a long time coming, said the 22-year-old, who should have graduated several years before.

He had one compelling reason for returning to school, he said.

"My young 'un," he said, referring to daughter, Kelsie, 18 months old.

Posing for pictures afterwards with family members, he said he was pleased with the decision.

"I'm glad he's made it through," girlfriend Jessica Howard said. "He's worked very hard. I'm glad he got through it."

Ashley Woodard, also 22, said she was "ecstatic" to receive her diploma.

"It's been a long road," said the mother of two children, 4-year-old Maggie and 2-year-old Niklas.

"It's hard," she admitted. "I was supposed to graduate in 2005 and I came back to finish."

It was also an emotional moment for her mom, Lori Norris, who teared up afterwards.

"I'm so glad, I'm just so proud of her," she said.

For some, the graduation ceremony marked a beginning.

Montriquos Truzy, 22, said he plans to continue his education, studying business administration in college. Classmate Cheryl Williams, 40, a mother and grandmother, aspires to enter the nursing program, hopefully at WCC.

Deborah Silva was home-schooled before enrolling in the adult high school program three semesters ago.

"I turned 18 and needed a state-issued diploma to get into college and classroom experience before going into a higher learning environment," she said.

Now 19, she plans to attend Bob Jones University in South Carolina, where she will study women's ministries.

"I'm excited to be able to be done," she said. "I have grown a lot, but I'm also excited to see what's going to be next."

For 20-year-old Tawanna Lance, showing her diploma to dad, Kelvin Lance, she said she was "just happy it's over with," even though she intends to continue her education.

"I want to major in dental assisting," she said.

Proud pop couldn't stop smiling.

"It's a blessing," he said. "This day, I'm just so glad it came."

In her commencement address, Candice Lancaster, 19, shared what the second-chance at a high school education meant to her.

"When people used to ask what I would do differently, if I could start over, I used to say I would've stayed in school," she said. "That is no longer true.

"While it's not smart to drop out of school, I honestly believe that without this school, and my time here, that I would not be seeking a higher education."

She said she had learned much from the teachers and staff, and what the experience had produced within her -- the chance to enjoy learning.

Immediate plans for the honor graduate are to enter the college transfer program at WCC.

Thursday's ceremonies recognized 71 adult high school graduates, while 149 received General Educational Development, or GED, diplomas.

The college will hold a second graduation ceremony tonight, for its curriculum students. The event begins at 5:30 p.m., with the largest graduating class in the college's history -- 566 students receiving certificates, diplomas and associate degrees.