Grandmother encourages grandson to get diploma

Published 12:16 pm Saturday, April 24, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Shirley Bell and her grandson John made getting their high school diplomas a family affair when they both enrolled in the Brandywine Alternative Education program last fall.
While attending a meeting to get her grandson enrolled in the program, alternative education counselor Diana Flora found out that Shirley, 64, was only a year away from graduation when she left high school as a teenager.
Flora convinced Shirley to enroll in the program with her grandson so that she could earn her high school diploma.
She left school after getting married following her junior year at Niles High School.
She finished up the necessary work to get her high school diploma last semester and is looking forward to her graduation ceremony at the end of this school year.
Brandywine Alternative Education teacher Mary Wood said she was impressed with Shirley's progress because the school is usually more difficult for people in her age group that have been removed from the school atmosphere such a long period of time.
Though the two family members were never in the same class, they did use each other for inspiration.
Flora said Shirley's commitment to school has been a positive influence on John, who dropped out of Niles High School last year.
John, 17, is currently at a junior level and expects to graduate next year. He is interested in pursuing a tool and die apprenticeship after high school and would eventually like to go to college to study herpetology, the study of reptiles.
Flora said Brandywine's program is important for students like John, who want to learn, but have trouble in a normal school setting.
Wood said the importance of the program, which has served about 150 students this year, is apparent when you walk through the doors and see the number of students participating.
The Bells' enrollment in the Brandywine Alternative Education program is the perfect example of how the program aims to serve people of all ages and ability levels.