SANATOGA PA – A group of 20 adult learners, described as one of the largest classes ever to graduate from the YWCA Tri-County Area Literacy Center at 1830 E. High St., received their high school equivalency diplomas Friday night (May 30, 2014) to the cheers and applause of family members and friends.
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The center, which occupies the lower level of National Penn Bank’s Sunnybrook branch office, was packed with dozens of happy onlookers. As graduates heard their names individually called, they paraded down a center aisle to accept an honor it took most months to obtain. Every face in the line was lit with a bright smile.
The graduating class consisted of Richard Beto, Malcolm Coston, Joyce Decker, Keira Frederick, Steven Gabriel, Mary Gatta, Sofia Gutierrez, Bernice Jeffers, Annette Kern, Ann Koch, Karima Laguel, Danielle McCullough, June Metzler, Ron Nieman, Margaret Njenga, Michelle Rivera Santiago, Michael Stroman, Angel Velez, Dayton Wheeler, and Neslihan Zabun.
All had personal reasons and their own unique motivations for battling through what Program Coordinator Sharon Sgriccia called increasingly tougher general educational development (GED) standards. “It hasn’t been easy for any of them,” she said earlier of the students and their workloads.
Some explained they never had the chance to finish their high school education, because they were pulled into work to support their families. Others were discouraged because they hadn’t fared well in school when younger. All said they were driven to give learning another concerted try.
Program Director Ed Sasek publicly recognized the obstacles each student had overcome, and congratulated them on their perseverance. He beamed as broadly as the GED grads themselves when their rolled parchment diplomas were distributed.
YWCA Interim Executive Director Alisa Baratta thanked the program’s several sponsors for making both the learning and hour-long celebration possible. They included the Pennsylvania Bureau of Postsecondary and Adult Education, National Penn Bank, the Montgomery County Workforce Investment Board, the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, the Rotary Clubs of Pottstown and Spring-Ford, Books-A-Million, Books 4 Less, Giant Food Stores, and the Support Literacy Fundraising Team.
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Photos and video by Joe Zlomek for The Post Publications LLC