The Enfield adult education program offers a second chance for a better future

ENFIELD — Frances Sullivan Spring, who recently earned her high school diploma along with 21 others through the Enfield Adult and Alternative Education program, says every one of the graduates has their own, individual challenges coming into what she calls the “journey” they took.

Spring said she came with the help of a cane, then a walker, and back to a cane, followed by a hip replacement and stomach operation.

Spring, who gave the student address during the June 8 graduation ceremony held at the Annex on North Maple Street, has worked, taken care of family, and endured the death of a daughter before accepting her diploma some three decades after she had originally planned.

Without the support of her teachers, she would not have been at the graduation, said Spring.

“There were many times I didn’t feel I had the energy, drive, or the ability to finish,” she told her fellow graduates who were joined at the ceremony by friends, family, program administrators, and town officials.

Thanks to their teachers, however, Spring said the students achieved their goals.

“As we walk away from here today to begin our next journey, we take knowledge and our newfound confidence with us,” she said. “We have proven there is no such thing as ‘I can’t.'”

“If you want something in life, take that challenge,” Spring told another graduate. “This is just the first of many journeys.”

The students competed their high school diplomas in one of three programs: Credit Recovery, which Spring did, National External Diploma, and General Education Development, said Adult and Alternate Education Department Director Marilynn Cressotti. She said students enter the program that best fits their previous schooling and their learning style.

Enfield is the lead educational agency for the program in the cooperative with five surrounding towns — East Granby, Granby, Somers, Suffield, and Windsor Locks. The program is offered free of charge.

The students range in ages and come with varied life experiences, Cressotti said, adding that the challenges are all students in the face program are attending to their studies while fulfilling responsibilities for other parts of life.

“Those responsibilities include jobs, taking care of kids, taking care of elderly parents,” Cressotti said. “Sometimes they are the elderly parents.”

In general, he said most of the students are between 17 and 21 years old.

Abigail Hackenyos attended Suffield High School but became pregnant last year when she was 17. She said she wanted to remain in high school and earn her diploma but school officials were not able to accommodate her needs.

Instead, Hackenyos left Suffield High School and enrolled in the adult education program, graduating through the National External Program.

Now 18 and caring for her son, Parker, who is almost three months old, Hackenyos looks back on her experience with Enfield Adult and Alternative Education with gratitude.

“I loved the program; the teachers were very good and supportive with accommodating my schedule,” she said.

Hackenyos said it was a smooth transition for her to make from high school to the adult education program because she had so recently been living the life of a student.

It’s a good opportunity to better your future if you run into unexpected circumstances and have to leave high school, she said.

Hackenyos said she plans to attend college and study nursing but will wait until her son is at least a year old.

The graduates who joined Spring and Hackenyos in receiving their diplomas this year are Veronica Brockheim, Rhianna Bromley, Ashleigh Burns, Ashley Byrdsong, Isaac Chiappetta, Nelady Comas, Dakota Fisher, Alyssa Haer, Isabelle Haouchine, Daniella Jansen, Tabi Klink, Alan Lavoie, Timieyah Manson, Ethan Mas, Brayden McGuire, Noelany Negron, Patricia Rodriguez, Asher Torres, Ryan Villandry, and Olivia Wright.

“This is just the first of many journeys we will travel,” Spring told the graduating class.

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