Members of the Class of 2014 of the North Country Charter Academy, now in its 10th year, posed on Sunday afternoon, June 1, on the stage of the Ballroom at the Omni Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods: Tiana Lyn Rowe, left, front row, Sonseeahray Renee Flores, Savannah Renae Walter, Tonya Arrianna Colangelo, Colleen Marion McElwain, Brittany Lynn Farrow, Taysia Wood, Ashley Rose Prince-Miles, Britney Cross, Michelle Jackson, and Jocleyn Rose Francis; and Quade Kadle, left, middle row, Logan Matthew Kadle, Daniel Call, Trenton Alexander Lowe, Taylor S. Oakes, Jacqueline Meagan Chubbuck, Dalton Pelkey, James M. Sams Jr., Dylan Matthew Perkins, Nicholas James Gilcris, and Carl E. Brooks Jr.; Jacob M. Demers, left, back row, Jason Scott George, Joseph L. Wallace Jr., Kyle Joseph Greene, Anthony T. Berry, Lukas E. Ayers, Randy Lee Whittum, Hunter Chance Patten, and Kayn Whitney. Five are missing: Lorraine "Rain" Morales, David Angelo Bona, Colton W. Burns, Owen Walker, and Dakota Shepard. Photo by Edith Tucker. (click for larger version)
June 04, 2014WHITEFIELD — The North Country Charter Academy (NCCA) celebrated its 10th year of success on Sunday afternoon, June 1, in an impressive ceremony in the Ballroom of the Omni Mount Washington Hotel.
Thirty-seven students earned their high school diplomas during this academic year at the public charter school that serves 10 SAUs across the North Country.
"The Charter Academy provided me with a way to get an education that otherwise I would have missed out on," explained student speaker Joseph Wallace Jr. of Berlin. The other four student speakers — Sonseeahray Flores, also Berlin, Lorraine "Rain" Morales of Lancaster, Ashley Prince-Miles of SAU #58, and James Sams Jr. of SAU #68 — echoed his sentiments and outlined some of the many obstacles and challenges they'd faced and overcome with the help of their families and the faculty and staff at the Charter Academy.
Governor Maggie Hassan in her keynote address pointed out that all members of the Class of 2014 had "different stories and different dreams" but that they 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 your 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 said that his father, who was one of 11 children, had had to drop out of high school when a freshman and that he had regretted not earning his high school diploma for the rest of his life. Since his older brother had also dropped out of high school, Kenney noted that receiving a high school diploma had not been a foregone conclusion in his household.
He urged the Charter Academy graduates to continue their educations and to earn associate's and-or Bachelor's degrees. Kenney explained that he had been able to earn his college degree because he had joined the Marines and ultimately was able 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 had earned high school diplomas. 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 whenever 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 both valued and connected.
Once again NCCA board chairman Kate Cassady of Littleton handled the role of master of ceremonies with aplomb, ably assisted by Pat Kelly of Groveton who serves as NCCA Operations Manager.