The Maine Academy of Natural Sciences on the Good Will-Hinckley campus held its first graduation for Threshold on Thursday, Feb. 1. The following four students earned the required standards to complete their high school diploma: Dakota Buzzell, of North Anson; Makayla Coyne, of Waterville; Rebecca Abbott, of Madison; and Kala Hunkler, of Skowhegan. More than 40 people attended the ceremony to congratulate the graduates.

The new program, which started in September, is for high school students who have life challenges that make it difficult for them to attend school regularly. Certified teachers teach and advise the student in the students’ home (whenever possible), through the Internet, as well as on the MeANS campus. Each student is assigned one primary teacher/advisor who will help them to complete high school, according to a news release from the academy.

Christie Bane greeted the students and audience as the keynote speaker. Bane graduated from the Passages Program, a home-visiting program similar to Threshold, more than 16 years ago. She spoke a little about her journey to where she is now — a mother of two sons 14 and 17 years old, a graduate student at Thomas College, and an employee at Pride Manufacturing. She was open and told the students of her struggles on the way to her success, “On my way to those great things I’ve failed, been fired, started college no less than four times, been through a divorce, cried countless tears and have made a dozens of mistakes that I fully owned.” She quoted Winston Churchill, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts,” according to the release.

The advisors/teachers Kenlyn Clark and Juliana Rothschild presented awards to each student. Buzzell received the “Dark Humor Award” from Rothschild for his ability to find irony in difficult situations and lift others spirits. Rothschild also presented Hunkler with the “Creative Spark Award” to be able to find and capture natural beauty in the world through photography and writing. Abbott received the “Hell and High Water Award” from Rothschild for the ability to weather the storms of daily life and rise above. Kenlyn Clark presented Coyne with the “Focus Award,” because she was able to stay focused on the end goal even through some major changes and struggles.

Rob Moody, executive director of GWH said, “All things are possible if you have belief and are willing to work for it. We’re so proud of the staff and students for all their hard work, commitment and focus,” according to the release.

For more information, visit gwh.org/means or email Lisa Sandy at [email protected].