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A family affair

Mother, son among adult education graduates

Mother, son among adult education graduates

June 22, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN

As the rest of her classmates graduated, 18-year-old Robin Weadon was pregnant with her first child.

Now 40, Weadon and her 21-year-old son celebrated Wednesday as they received high school diplomas. They were among 102 graduates from the external diploma and GED programs at Hagerstown Community College.

Weadon dropped out of high school in the ninth grade after her involvement with drugs and alcohol began to affect her school attendance and performance. She found the only jobs she was qualified for involved manual labor and paid low wages.

Weadon said she thought about going back for her degree, but life, children and work got in the way. When her son, Kevin Weadon, dropped out of high school on his 16th birthday, she said she had no more excuses.

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"I had to make the cycle stop," she said.

Weadon said her parents each dropped out of school, as did her brother and sister.

"If you go through life without (a diploma), you see what you can't do, not what you can," Weadon said. "I'm very proud of myself and of my son."

Kevin Weadon was an honor roll student before he moved with his father to West Virginia, he said. Weadon said he did not like it there, and decided he would rather work. He took a job working in construction.

After a few years of work, Kevin said he realized how important his high school diploma would be for his future. He and his mother decided to get their diplomas together, and enrolled in the adult education programs last fall.

Kevin even paid for his mother's classes.

"We're all walking into a new future," Robin Weadon said. "We had to do it."

Weadon said she now cleans houses, but with her degree, she will enroll at HCC in the fall and hopes to earn a degree in medical transcription.

Nettie Schubel, instructional specialist, said Wednesday's graduating class was the largest of the three adult education classes to graduate from HCC. She credited the surge in enrolled students to the closing of the GST AutoLeather plant in Williamsport. At least 10 of this year's graduates were employed there before the plant closed, she said.

Stephen Teaford, 30, of Hagerstown, had worked at GST for five years when the plant closed. With only an eighth-grade education, Teaford said his job options were limited.

A week after receiving his high school diploma, he enrolled in a truck driving program at HCC, and since has graduated. Teaford said as a truck driver, he is making more money than he did at GST.

"I know that diploma can take me places," Teaford said. "I wanted to show my kids that a high school diploma is a necessity, not an option."

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