A goal reached

Published 2:34 am Wednesday, May 25, 2005

By By EMILY DREITZLER / Niles Daily Star
NILES - "Good evening, and welcome to the 2005 Niles Adult Education commencement." Adult Education Director, Rich Klemm said, kicking off an amazing night of appreciation for the 28 students graduating this year. "While each story is unique in its own way, each of our graduates have one thing in common: They set a goal, worked very hard, and have attained that goal. For this, they should be proud," Klemm said.
For the Adult Education graduates, overcoming adversity and challenges proved to be a prevalent theme. "Some of our students struggled academically in their earlier years, and some faced medical challenges that delayed their graduation. Some made mistakes along the way, but had the fortitude to complete their high school education. Some of our students faced family and other personal issues, but persevered," Klemm said.
Over 100 people attended the ceremony, which was held Tuesday evening at Niles High School Auditorium. Niles Community Schools Superintendent, Doug Law, spoke at the commencement calling the ceremony "a joyous occasion", and added, "tonight is about courage and perseverance on the graduates' part and their families." Graduates this year ranged from 18 to 50 years old.
Special awards were presented to deserving graduates. Rich Klemm presented The Most Improved award to Vince Dixon. Klemm recalled working at Ring Lardner earlier in his career and called Dixon a "frequent flyer" in his office for disciplinary purposes. Since those days at Ring Lardner, Klemm says that Dixon is a "changed man" and a "steady, reliable, and dedicated student. I give this award to Vince tonight without hesitation," continued Klemm. Dixon, who hopes to use his diploma to pursue a career in firefighting, said "It is a lifelong dream of mine. (My diploma) means a lot to me." Dixon added.
Next, Adult Education Academic Advisor, John Fonash, awarded The Most Dedicated certificate to Nicol Gomez. Fonash recalled that Gomez was "busy in the learning center everyday" and said she would always show up to class whether it be rain or shine. She "maintained focus on her work and graduating," Fonash said.
Lastly, Fonash presented The Perseverance award to Travis Brewer. "Travis always pushed himself while balancing a very busy life." said Fonash.
E. J. Bast of Southwestern Michigan College took the podium to present a one-year full-ride scholarship to Tiffanie Gogley. Denise Martin from Lake Michigan College presented start-up scholarships to graduates.
After the presentation of scholarships, Adult Education instructor Loretta McLean read a piece of poetry she had written for the ceremony. In the poem she provided inspiration and hope to the graduates stating, "The world awaits you, be more than you ever dream."
Niles School Board President, Jerry French, also addressed the graduates and praised their accomplishments as he proceeded to present them their hard-earned diplomas.
Following the ceremony, the graduates and their families and friends were treated to a reception in the Niles High School cafeteria, where they got the opportunity to acknowledge those who have supported their goals and helped them reach this momentous night.