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For some Washington Co. students, road to diploma was bumpy

May 30, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- Faced with a difficult upbringing in Montgomery County, Md., Lloydette V. Thompson-Taylor's solution was to get away.

At a young age, she was in foster care for many years before returning to her home.

When she decided that life at home was too rocky, she went to San Mar Children's Home and enrolled at Boonsboro High School.

On Thursday, she told her story while taking one more step forward in life: graduation.

Thompson-Taylor was among 13 Washington County Evening High School students whose achievements were saluted Thursday during commencement at Washington County Technical High School. Three others eligible for graduation didn't attend.

Some Evening High School students will graduate this year from their home high schools, Administrator Sherry Hamilton said after the ceremony.

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Evening High School takes in a wide swath of students, she said. Some, from other schools within the county, want extra classes to graduate early; some clashed with teachers at their day schools; some were suspended or expelled; some got pregnant.

"You have demonstrated amazing perseverance to get here," Carol W. Costello, the coordinator of alternative programs and student services for Washington County Public Schools, said during the ceremony.

The challenge for Guido Roche Jr., who graduated Thursday, was balancing fatherhood, work and school.

His girlfriend, Brittany Campbell, gave birth to their daughter, Maribella, 16 months ago, when he was a junior at North Hagerstown High School.

He dropped out of school to work. But several months later, he was compelled to go back.

"I decided that I needed my education so that I can help my daughter," he said.

Roche said he worked 13-hour days at the Food Lion distribution center in Greencastle, Pa., four or five times a week, while attending Evening High School.

That left just a few hours a day for sleep, he said.

Campbell said it was hard to wake Roche each day. He'd stall - "Five more minutes, five more minutes," said Campbell, who is expecting their second child in October.

Roche said he wants to get a degree in business administration.

Thompson-Taylor plans to study social work.

Costello told the graduates that even Michael Jordan and Abraham Lincoln failed before they succeeded.

Quoting Winston Churchill, she said, "Never, never, never, never quit."

"I think we have here a living, breathing example of what that means," she said.

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