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Gov. Hassan applauds Eagle Academy graduates in Conway

Special to the Union Leader

June 02. 2013 9:59PM
Matt Glennie introduces Gov. Maggie Hassan to his grandson, Colton, who is in the arms of his mom, and Matt’s daughter, Michaela Glennie. Michaela gave the graduating senior address at the Eagle Academy at Kennett High School graduation on May 30. (SARA YOUNG-KNOX PHOTO)

CONWAY — Gov. Maggie Hassan gave some good advice to the graduating class of the Eagle Academy at Kennett High School, but judging from the size and enthusiasm of the audience, the new graduates, along with five GED recipients, had already learned that lesson.

“Surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you,” Hassan said after telling the class, “My mom said, ’Young people need to know they have an adult in their corner.’”

Fifteen students completed the requirements for graduation at Eagle Academy this year, and 13 of those students — joined by five GED recipients — were able to attend the May 30 graduation ceremony in Loynd Auditorium at Kennett High School.

There were an estimated 250 family members and friends in attendance cheering on the class.

The academy offers an alternative for those students who might otherwise drop out of high school. Classes are held during after-school hours. An adult GED prep program is held for those adults and young people who have already left the school system.

Governor Hassan was invited to give the commencement address to help celebrate a milestone in the academy’s — and specifically Kennett High School’s — effort to bring down what was once one of the worst dropout rates in the state. This year, the dropout rate at the high school is zero.

In acknowledging that accomplishment Hassan, said she was impressed and proud.

The governor, who met with students briefly before the ceremony, noted that all the students had some obstacles in their lives, and that going forward they will still have challenges.

She told the students about her 24-year-old son, Ben, who has severe disabilities and can’t walk or talk, but still, despite the challenges his condition presented, was able to go to high school and graduate, with advocacy and support.

“He kept at it,” she said, and because of that, “he’s stronger, and we’re stronger.”

Become an adult who helps young people, she advised the students. You could be the adult in that kid’s corner, she said.

“Please don’t give up on your state,” she said. “Please don’t give up on your country.”

After the diplomas were handed out, Hassan, who had met with the class before the ceremony, made sure she found Michaela Glennie and her family — including Glennie’s 1-year-old son, Colton — in the crowd.

Glennie gave the graduating senior address, and told about the interruption in her education that made Eagle Academy the best choice for her.

She became pregnant at 15, she told the audience. She became a mother at 16, during her junior year in high school, and the responsibility for another life made regular high school very challenging for her.

Now, with her diploma in hand, she and several others in the class of 2013 will go on to college.

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