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BENNINGTON - With dozens of friends and family members cheering them on, the 2021 graduates of the Sunrise Family Resource Center's Learning Together Program were honored in a short ceremony in the center's playground on Friday morning.
Learning Together is a state-approved program that helps men and women who are pregnant or parenting from the ages of 14 to 24 complete their high school educations. Classes at Sunrise include a core curriculum, individualized instruction and parenting and life skills.
Stepping forward one by one to accept their certificates of completion were graduates Savanna Becker, Emily Brady, Jamie Clark, Serenity Davis and Ivy Harwood. Two graduates, Carli Houran and Felicity Mattison, were unable to attend.
This year, with instruction carried out both in-person and remotely, "has been a struggle for them," said Jackolyn Houghton, the program's teacher coordinator. "But they have managed to achieve their goals," she added. "I am extremely proud of every one of them."
Houghton said the students have been enrolled in the program for one to three years. With their high school educations complete, some students plan to move into the world of full-time work, while others are looking forward to pursuing degrees.
"These students have persevered through extremely challenging times to make their high school graduation dream a reality," she said in her address to the crowd. "My seniors have built strong skills that will not only assist them in their careers, but also in everyday life, as they raise their families.
She read a short tribute to each graduate, celebrating their accomplishments and outlining their future plans.
"They have overcome adversity and have strived to become leaders in a world that has tried to hinder them. They have learned together, strengthened each other, and even supported each other for some of their most difficult of circumstances," Houghton said. "These women have proved themselves time and time again, and will continue to do so as they meet the next goal they wish to conquer."
David LaChance, Bennington Banner