Salisbury teen takes own path to diploma

MIDDLEBURY — Some students just aren’t suited for the standard institutional model of education — or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that model isn’t suited for them. Lyndsy Quenneville certainly didn’t think so.
Wearied by her experiences at Middlebury Union High School, the 17-year-old Salisburyresident opted to earn credits for her senior year in the High School Completion Program offered by Vermont Adult Learning (VAL), a private nonprofit that offers free learning programs for individuals 16 and older lacking a high school diploma or equivalent skills.
Quenneville will be among over a dozengraduates honored at the VAL commencement ceremony this Thursday, June 16, at 6 p.m. at Middlebury College’s Kirk Alumni Center.
Quenneville said that she especially appreciated the independence and responsibility that VAL allowed her to have in her approach to her education. For her, a standard high school path was too paternalistic.
“Everybody’s asked the same thing, expected the same thing,” said Quenneville. “It’s not individualized at all. At VAL it’s much more independent and on you. You get treated like an actual adult and person. In a public high school I feel like you’re talked down to and more so treated like a student or a child. I’m almost 18; I don’t like being treated like that.”
Due to poor attendance, Quenneville was no longer allowed to take part in MUHS’s independent learning program, Branching Out, which had previously enabled her to continue her studies within the regular high school system.
“I wasn’t the best with attendance,” she said, “so they told me that I couldn’t continue that program. That was really the only way I could do a lot of the classes because it would anger me to be in situations where I am getting treated the same as everyone else when clearly I can’t learn in the same way. I like more hands-on learning.”
The staff at VAL recognize Quenneville as a high-achieving young woman who just needed the right environment in order to succeed.
VAL’s Addison County regional manager, David Roberts, said that he noticed Quenneville soon after assuming his new role earlier this year.
“I came in in April as the new regional manager and met Lyndsy right away,” said Roberts. “One of the things that I have seen just over the last couple of months is that she’s really finished up and realized that she’s going to graduate. There’s confidence in her eyes.”
Lynn Littler, plan manager of the High School Completion Program at VAL, worked with Quenneville regularly and praised her for reaching her goals.
“Focusing on her goal of earning her diploma was just huge to her,” Littler said. “It means everything to her to graduate with her class. She came through like a shining light. She really did.”
In an interview last Thursday, Quenneville expressed appreciation at the opportunity to attend the graduation ceremony with the rest of her MUHS class this past Saturday.
“I’m still attending the Middlebury graduation. I still get to walk with them and wear the cap and gown and receive my diploma,” she said.
One important requirement to earn her diploma was for Quenneville to create a presentation demonstrating all her work at VAL to the MUHS administration. She went through the presentation with flying colors.
“A student who typically goes through the regular normal path of a high school experience isn’t expected to do that,” said Littler. “Because she chose to leave the school and create her own path, this is the expectation for her, that she was going to present at the end of the school year.”
As for her future, Quenneville thinks that she’d like to earn a degree in environmental science or psychology, though she is not sure yet which one appeals to her more.
“I was thinking of going to Community College of Vermont for the fall semester and applying to Castleton State College for the spring,” she said. “Maybe I could have a chance to get my GPA up and look like a better student than I was in high school.”
According to Quenneville, it really cannot be overstated how important the services offered by VAL were to her.
“Without VAL, I wouldn’t be graduating,” she said.

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