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Students earn diplomas after suspending their studies

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury resident Jesse Euber started high school in Fair Haven and transferred to Middlebury Union High School. It proved to be a difficult period for her.
“I was having a really hard time with the transition and I wasn’t getting pushed to go to school,” Euber, 21, recalled in an interview last week.
She dropped out of high school when she was 16 and moved in with her son’s father. Without a high school diploma, Euber’s job prospects were limited, and her transition into adulthood was daunting.
Those prospects will get brighter after this Thursday when Euber, along with several others, receives her diploma through the High School Completion Program of Vermont Adult Learning (VAL). After her son was born, Euber returned to her studies through Addison County VAL.
“I chose to come to VAL because it was sort of my last option,” Euber said. “I started attending the Parent-Child Center and was doing their school program, which didn’t really work for me, but they were a really great support system and they pointed me in this direction (toward VAL).”
For adults who never earned a high school diploma or GED, the job market can be formidable. Real income earned by those without a diploma has been steadily decreasing over the past decades, making it increasingly difficult to reach a level of financial security.
The Addison County VAL is one of several adult learning locations around the state designed to help Vermonters achieve educational, professional and personal goals through attainment of a diploma or GED, also known as the General Education Development credential.
VAL is located in the Addison County Learning Center on Boardman Street in Middlebury in the same building as the nonprofit Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects, or HOPE. Vermont Adult Learning cooperates extensively with area high schools, the Community College of Vermont and social service organizations such as the Addison County Parent-Child Center to help expand opportunities for students that got off of the traditional path to high school graduation.
Despite initial reservations, Euber said the VAL program has been an excellent fit for her.
“I expected to hate it; I’ve hated school all along,” Euber said with a laugh. “I had trouble learning the way that I was being taught. When I came here, it became a lot more personal. Anyone that you work with here is quick to notice what you’re good at and what you need help with.”
Euber is finishing up her project-based curriculum under the guidance of High School Completion Program Plan Manager Lynn Littler, who has been with VAL for seven years. Littler specifically facilitates the schooling of students working toward a diploma, however VAL also helps students attain GEDs as well.
Littler spoke highly of Euber’s personal and academic accomplishments, praising how she “really put it into high gear in the past few months.”
After her graduation, Euber hopes to attend CCV and spend time raising her son, Sawyer.
“She’s totally competent. Jesse has all the innate skills to do whatever she wants to do,” Littler said.
VAL will be holding graduation ceremonies on Thursday, June 12, at 6:30 p.m. at Middlebury College’s Kirk Alumni Center, where students who have earned a diploma or GED during this past year will be recognized for their accomplishments.
There will be five graduates of the High School Completion Program, three graduates of the Vermont Adult Diploma Program, and 18 students who have earned their GED. 

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