Friends and family gathered in the Belfast High School gymnasium Wednesday, June 6, to celebrate the 2012 Adult Education graduates.

Of the 23 graduates, seven attended the ceremony and shared what they plan to do after earning their high school diploma or GED.

“I wanted to have something to show I completed high school,” Belfast resident Ashleigh Thayer said. “I’m planning on going to Eastern Maine College to study teaching.”

Thayer said teaching appealed to her because she wanted to help people the same way the teachers in the adult education program helped her.

Northport resident Paul Paige decided to enroll in the adult education program after he discovered he needed a high school diploma or GED to pursue his dream of working in law enforcement. Paige said he was initially nervous about returning to school, but quickly discovered the adult education program was a good fit for him.

“Everybody was very helpful and I expected it to be hard, but it really wasn’t that bad,” he said.

Norma O’Neal, a resident of Liberty, said she was very excited to be graduating from the adult education program, but is still planning on pursuing more education after a few weeks off.

“I’m feeling really awesome right now,” O’Neal said. “I was nervous at the beginning of classes, but everybody is so helpful and I made the transition well.”

For some of the graduates the decision to return to school was made because of their children. Belfast resident Amanda Benitez, who said she doesn’t have any plans at the moment to continue her education, wanted to go back to school for her kids.

“It was awesome coming back and going through the program,” Benitez said. “I couldn’t have asked for better teachers or a better area to learn in.”

Like Benitez, Northport resident Misty Linscott decided to enroll in the adult education program for her two children – a son and daughter. Linscott said her future plans include attending school to become a licensed beautician now that she has graduated. During her time in the adult education program, Linscott’s son was hospitalized, but she said the teachers worked with her to accommodate her family needs.

“The teachers were very understanding, because my son was hospitalized right in the middle of our testing and I only had a few tests left to take,” she said. “I was able to take some time off and everyone was very understanding.”

During the brief commencement ceremony, RSU 20 Superintendent Bruce Mailloux offered a few remarks to the graduates.

“This is a very special event. Sitting before you tonight are some graduates who have ‘run the cycle’ as we say,” he said. “They made the decision to not complete their diploma for whatever reason, but then they realized things weren’t working or that something was missing. They decided to come back and apply the same drive and perseverance they did in their personal lives, and here they are.”

Mailloux said the decision to return to school is not an easy one to make, and that he had the utmost respect for the graduates who chose to return to complete their education.

“I think this is just a grand thing, and congratulations,” he said.

Adult Education Class of 2012 graduates:

James Aldus
Amanda Benitez
Alan Clark
Aaron Cole
Justin Cunningham
Nathanael Flachsbart
Sarah Grass
Harriett Huffman
Nathan Lapides
Gregory Libby
Misty Linscott
Rachel Milbury
Harley Mitchell
Angela Nightingale
Norma O’Neal
Paul Paige
Robert Peavey Jr.
Rebecca Simpson
Anna Taylor
Ashleigh Thayer
Mike Vellaro
Kelly Ward
Mark Whitcomb

Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or