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3 SAU #3 students earn diplomas at North Country Charter Academy

An impressive commencement ceremony was held on Sunday afternoon at the Omni Mt. Washington Hotel to mark the 10th year of the North Country Charter Academy, a public high school that is a partnership of 10 North Country SAUs. This year, three SAU #3 students earned their high school diplomas. Photo by Edith Tucker. (click for larger version)
June 04, 2014
BRETTON WOODS — The North Country Charter Academy celebrated its 10th year of success on Sunday afternoon, June 1, in an impressive ceremony in the Ballroom at the Omni Mount Washington Hotel.

Three students from SAU #3 — Sanseeahray Renee Flores; Jacob M. (Demers) Porter; and Joseph L. Wallace, Jr. — earned their diplomas at the public charter school that serves 10 SAUs across the North Country.

Both Flores and Wallace served as student speakers and described some of the obstacles that they had overcome to reach their goal of becoming high school graduates.

"The Charter Academy provided me with a way to get an education that otherwise I would have missed out on," Wallace explained.

Governor Maggie Hassan in her keynote address pointed out that all 35 members of the Class of 2014 had "different stories and different dreams" but that they all shared important traits in reaching this milestone: the ability to hold up their heads when the going gets tough; to work hard to achieve their own goals to ensure better futures for themselves; and awareness that they are not alone but have families and others who are like families in providing support. "Well done," the governor said.

"You are now prepared for great success in the next stage of yur life, whether it is entering college or the work force," Hassan said. She thanked those heading into the military for their bravery and commitment to our freedoms.

"You shouldn't fear failure if you reject a path and choose a new one — there is no formula, no predetermined steps to take. Your education has prepared you for any path you might take. Continue your education; it will pay off for the future of your community, the state, and the nation," she said.

The 21st century economy depends on education, Hassan noted, and the Granite State has many opportunities for those who engage in collective problem solving, critical thinking and civic life in "our true citizen democracy."

District 1 Executive Councilor Joe Kenney of Wakefield said that his father, who was one of 11 children, had had to drop out of high school when in his freshman year and had regretted not earning a high school diploma for the rest of his life. Since his older brother had also dropped out of high school, his receiving a high school diploma was not a foregone conclusion.

He urged the Charter Academy graduates to continue their educations and earn associate's and-or Bachelor's degrees. Kenney said he had been able to earn his college degree, because he joined the Marines and was able ultimately to serve as an officer.

A 30-plus-year Marine, Col. Kenney served in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

Commissioner of Education Dr. Virginia Barry commended NCCA principal Lisa Lavoie and her outstanding staff for the success of the program in which 362 students from over 45 communities. In 2003, northern N. H. had 97 student dropouts and in 2012 that number had dropped to 25, making a 74 percent decrease in what had once been thought an intractable problem.

Barry explained that when she visits schools she looks to the quality of the "school culture" and whether all students are accepted and valued. She said NCCA students do feel connected.

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