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Students go back to school, graduate

May 21, 2007|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

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HAGERSTOWN - When Kayla Neff's son asked her why he should stay in school, she didn't hesitate with her answer.

It's important to finish school, she told him. It's important to graduate, she said.

"He didn't like school at first, and he brought up that I didn't graduate," Neff said of her 5-year-old, William.

That was enough to send the 24-year-old back to school for her degree.

Neff graduated Sunday along with 51 others also receiving their GEDs at Hagerstown Community College's Athletic, Recreation and Community Center. Another 40 graduated from the external diploma program.

Neff works as a nursing assistant, but says she wants to continue learning and become a licensed practical nurse (LPN). She said that will require a few college courses at HCC before she begins the nursing courses.


Neff said her sons, William and 3-year-old Joshua, were at Sunday's graduation. After receiving her degree, Neff said she'll feel better when telling her boys to stay in school.

Pamela Miller, 55, of Hagerstown, was at her last job for 11 years when she was injured.

"Nobody wanted to talk to me without my GED, my diploma," she said. "They don't want to talk to you."

Miller said she completed ninth grade before leaving high school. She went to high school in Allegany County, Md., before moving to Washington County. She said the transition was hard and she just lost interest.

Miller said she took the GED exam when she was 18, but failed the science and math portions. This time, she said, there was an essay section that she did well in. Miller spoke to her fellow graduates Sunday about her experience.

Sherri Green, 49, of Waynesboro, Pa., said she has always wanted to go back for her degree. She graduated from the external diploma program Sunday.

Nettie Schubel, an instructional specialist for the adult education program said those students used their life skills and worked at their own pace.

Matthew Glessner, 20, of Hancock, said it took him one year to graduate as he balanced a family, work and school.

Glessner left high school after completing his sophomore year to take care of his newborn son, while his girlfriend finished high school and went to college. Glessner said his wife, Ashley Glessner, and his 2-year-old son, Isaiah, were at his graduation ceremony Sunday.

He said his wife supported his decision to go back to school and even helped him with his homework.

"I never thought this day would come," Glessner said. "I didn't think I was smart enough."

He said without his degree, he had low self-esteem about his education. But after graduating from the external diploma program, Glessner said he wants to take college courses and perhaps teach social studies or enter the political field.

While Glessner doubted if his graduation day would ever come, Ken Mohr doubted he would make it to the ceremony. The 46-year-old Hagerstown resident said his appendix nearly ruptured Saturday, and he was rushed into surgery that night.

He was released from the hospital Sunday just in time to graduate from the external diploma program.

"I told the doctors to get me out of (the hospital) by 1 p.m.," Mohr said. "That's the first thing I told them."

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