Graduation cause for smiles

Published 1:13 am Monday, June 9, 2003

By By MARCIA STEFFENS / Vigilant/Argus
MISHAWAKA, Ind. -- Crystal L. Linde's determination to complete her high school education taking six classes in one year, even with a baby and working part-time, and also coming in with a smile, earned her the Outstanding Student Award at the Cassopolis Adult Education Graduation Thursday evening, held in Edison Lakes.
Linde, of Niles, also received the Southwestern Michigan College Board of Trustee Scholarship Award, which includes $100 toward books each semester.
The roses presented to all the Cassopolis Adult Education graduates were yellow -- for the many military graduates, said the director, Rhonda Schadler, adding, yellow is also for friendship.
Schadler's special relationship to these high school graduates of various ages was evident in the hugs which were given by Schadler as Superintendent John Ostrowski handed out each diploma.
The roses are given to the person of each graduate's choice, often their mother, spouse or even child.
When Schadler started out with the program 13 years ago, there were two graduates -- this year there were 90. One, who just slipped in under the wire, without his name even making the program, was Kacey Schlundt of Mishawaka, Ind. His rose is going to his recruiter. On July 17 Schlundt leaves for California, near San Diego, to become a Navy SEAL.
Staci Besaw, a graduate from Edwardsburg, gave her rose to her husband Lyle. With all the cramming and little sleep to complete her government classes, he helped with their three children, ages seven, four and two.
But Besaw really went back to school to fulfill a promise to her father. When he signed for her to leave school in her senior year and get married, she promised him she would finish. He is dead now, but she plans on surprising her mother in Oregon when she sends a copy of her diploma and video of her graduation.
Learning shouldn't end with this piece of paper, the graduates were told by the guest speaker, Dr. Raymond Golarz of Bloomington, Ind. "Learning is a lifelong experience. Mark a line that will continue the rest of your life," he said.
Though it "isn't the degrees and honors," he added, "it's the deeds that make us who we are."