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13 graduate from Evening High

June 03, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

karenh@herald-mail.com

Working for minimum wage, Patricia McDonnell realized her education had not gone far enough.

So when an Evening High School staff member called her, McDonnell knew it was time to go back.

"Working there for $5.15 an hour ... as soon as I got that job and I was starting to hate making that kind of money, Ms. Carden called," McDonnell said.

McDonnell and 12 of her classmates celebrated their graduation Thursday night from Evening High School at Washington County Technical High School. About 100 parents, siblings and friends attended the ceremony.

According to Robert Beard Jr., Washington County Public Schools coordinator of alternative programs, 31 students have graduated from the school this year. Traci Carden is a staff member at the school, which serves at-risk students.

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McDonnell, 20, who lives near Smithsburg, said she missed about two months of school in 2003 because of kidney problems. She returned, but did not finish.

"My principal was going to let me graduate in 2004, but none of my friends were there, so I quit," McDonnell said.

McDonnell, who came back to Evening High to finish her credits, plans to attend Baltimore City Community College to study aquariology. She is interested in training dolphins, she said.

"I'm very proud of her. A lot of people were telling her, 'Just get your GED,' and she said, 'No.' She was going to get her diploma," Nancy Skeen, McDonnell's mother, said after the ceremony. "She wasn't going to settle."

Beard congratulated students for overcoming obstacles to achieve their goals.

"Though some of you have lived through difficult times, when it seemed no one cared ... you, by virtue of your celebration this evening, have learned what you lived: To persist," Beard said during his remarks.

Amanda Iden-Hovatter, who received two scholarships totaling $650, said she considered dropping out.

Her husband wouldn't hear of it, she said.

"He wouldn't let me quit school," said Amanda, 17, of Hancock. "I wanted to because things got really rough, and he wouldn't let me. He was looking out for me."

Amanda, the class speaker, said attending night classes allowed her to graduate after just three years of high school. She plans to attend Hagerstown Community College to become a nurse.

Beard said Evening High students come from a variety of backgrounds.

For many of the students, graduation represents achievement over adversity, Beard said.

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