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Danielle Holland of Londonderry will be graduating from Londonderry High School's Adult Education program on June 6. Here, she is preparing a three-course meal for a final exam in culinary arts, one of her elective courses.

Danielle Holland was busy peeling peaches and chopping up other ingredients for her cooking class last Tuesday evening. She had to prepare a three-course meal for two and couldn't spend more than $10 on her groceries for her final exam.

Holland, 18, is one of 29 students who will graduate June 6 from Londonderry High School's Adult Education program.

Most of the students left the day program of their high schools for one reason or another, and the adult education program became a viable option for them to receive a diploma.

Holland was involved in a serious car accident a few days before the start of her junior year in 2005 at Londonderry High School.

"I couldn't go to school the first semester," she said. "It took a while before I could walk again, and I got so far behind."

Holland decided to finish her high school education through the adult education program.

Students in the adult education program, with permission from their parents, are allowed to withdraw from the high school day program and transfer to the night adult education program. They need 20 credits to graduate and receive an adult education diploma. The day program requires 24 credits to graduate.

At another cooking station, Jim Otting, 17, was having a hard time with his final project.

He planned to make pancakes, but they turned out looking like crepes. The dessert he was making, pina coladas, turned out not to be a dessert after all, according to family and consumer sciences teacher Chris Doucette.

"That's a drink," Doucette told Otting.

But Otting was undaunted. He knows he'll receive his diploma.

He only had 15 credits coming into his final semester at Londonderry High School, and he wouldn't graduate if he stayed in the day program.

Doucette said the cooking class is a practical one.

"I show them how they can make a healthy meal with something other than Ramen noodles," she said.

Otting, who works two jobs when he's not in school, said he is thinking of going on to get a two-year business degree.

Of the 29 students graduating, 16 are going on to postsecondary education and four are enlisting in the military.

"This is our largest class to date," said Jason Parent, assistant principal and director of alternative education.

So far, 105 students have received diplomas from the program since the first graduation in January of 2005.

Parent said having a high school diploma holds more weight than a general education diploma when students are looking at colleges.

"The G.E.D. is just a test of your knowledge," he said. "The diploma means course work and credits."

Also graduating tonight are two students from neighboring Hudson.

Becka Turner, 18, and Beth Belanger, 19, both dropped out of Alvirne High School.

Turner was bored with the curriculum and Belanger had moved around because of family issues and had already attended three high schools.

Belanger said she found the adult education program to be a good alternative to high school.

"The teachers take your learning style and work with it," Turner said. "I loved writing papers for English class. I've been on the honor roll for the first time since the third grade."

Crystal Maynard, an English teacher at Londonderry High, said she enjoys the differences and challenges of teaching the adult education class.

"It's a way to reach kids we don't normally reach and help them to attain their goals," Maynard said.



Londonderry Adult Education graduates

Matthew Joseph Anderson, Kyle Michael Axelson, David John Balfour, Elizabeth Nicole Belanger, Shyra Marie Benoit, Ashly Lyn Boninm, Christopher Hartley Boyle, Eric D. Currier, Joe Drazen, James Carmen Edwards, Steven Edward Fisher, Jordan G. Hannah, Robert Sean Henderson, Danielle R. Holland, Phobe O'Brien Holland, Sean Paul Koehler, Erik Mark Lesieur, Patrick Roger Lord, Kevin Earl McGee, Jennifer Danielle Mercier, James Michael Otting, Nicholas Michael Panteleakis, Eric David Pierce, William Guy Powers, Joseph David Racca, James Michael Roy, Dennis Michel Tetreault Jr., Brandon M. Turcotte, Rebecca Leigh Turner



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