Dr. Joe Bertolino, president of Lyndon State College, advised the St. Johnsbury Northeast Kingdom Learning Services (NEKLS) Class of 2013 to "get a life ... a real life, not one on Facebook."

Speaking at the June 13 graduation ceremony, Bertolino elaborated, telling the audience to "get a life full of meaning." He spoke from his experience with friends and family, saying, "I show up, I listen, I try to laugh."

The families and friends of the 39 graduates filled the United Baptist Church in Waterford to celebrate the achievements of students who had earned high school diplomas and General Educational Development (GED) certificates over the course of the last year through NEKLS. Graduates earned their credentials through a variety of programs offered at NEKLS, including the Adult Diploma Program, High School Completion Program, and GED testing.

Sabra Snyder, a 2013 graduate, said that in addition to the support of family and friends, "the support from the people at NEKLS gave me every opportunity to succeed. I knew I was not allowed to fail. The staff did everything they could to make sure I succeeded. Their support hasn't stopped since I graduated, either. NEKLS sticks with us [graduates]. The center is open for me to work on my resume and is very important to the community."

Two students, Desiree Hawkins and Dale McAlister, were surprised with Outstanding Student Awards during the ceremony. These awards recognize students who achieve high academic success, work with determination and a growth mindset no matter the obstacles, and are already working with strong commitment to their futures after graduation. These students each earned a technology device gift of their choice.

"The outpouring of support for our students by family and friends is truly impressive," Jennifer Adams, St. Johnsbury center manager of NEKLS, said in her closing speech to the graduates. "Thank you for allowing us the privilege of being a part of your journey. You inspire us."

For more information about Northeast Kingdom Learning Services visit www.neklsvt.org.

Submitted by Jen Way and Marina Rowell.

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