Adult Education and Family Literacy Center graduates 67

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ST. THOMAS - It wasn't the usual lineup of graduates at the Adult Education and Family Literacy Center's commencement exercise, held at the Charlotte Amalie High School auditorium on Sunday. Ranging in age from 16 to their late 60s, the Adult Continuing Education and GED Class of 2014 was prouder than most, because it took a lot more effort than most to reach their goal.

It was a long road for these determined graduates. For many, it was a fine balancing act, juggling work, children, school and homework, but they realized the importance of an education in life and how essential it is to a brighter future.

ACE valedictorian Golda Halliday is one such graduate. When she came to St. Thomas from St. Kitts, Golda realized that getting a proper job was next to impossible without a high school diploma. Working full time, with four children to raise, and often with no transportation, completing her education was quite a struggle.

"There were times when I would work 8 hours a day, go to night school and burn the midnight oil completing assignments," Golda said in her speech. "But I knew at the end of the day that what I was doing was to benefit my family, especially my teenage son, and allowed me to be a role model to my children, young people and other people my age who want to make their dream a reality."

Golda hopes to continue her education at UVI in the fall, studying early childhood education. She would like to someday open her own Head Start or preschool.

ACE salutatorian Heather Skeete agreed that earning her diploma was a challenge. "It's wonderful to finally have it, but it took lots of work and sleepless nights," she said. Heather had her own "snackette" business in Nevis, but found it hard to find a job on St. Thomas at more than minimum wage. "It's hard having to work and go to school. You're tired but you just have to keep going."

The GED High Honor student was Kinaya Williams, who told her own personal story in her speech. A year ago, she was a pregnant teen with no job, no education, no stable support system and little hope of finishing high school.

"There were many challenges, but I persevered," she said. "It was long and rough, but I still did it. I'm glad I was able to finish so I can make bigger and better steps in the future."

Principal Dahlia Adams is proud of this year's 67 graduates.

"In all my years I have been doing this, this class was the most challenging, the most interested, the most frustrating, you name it, this class was it," she said, smiling. "They gave us a run for our money, but they are a good class that can go places with the right attitude because they are persistent. It gives credence to the quote that you're never too old to learn."

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