The Maine Academy of Natural Sciences on the Good Will-Hinckley campus graduated seven students from its innovative Threshold program for high school students who have life challenges that have made it difficult for them to attend school regularly.

At the program’s second graduation on July 19, MeANS recognized the students who met the standards required to complete high school and receive a diploma: Trinity Bragg of Waterville, Jacob Booth Bryant of Skowhegan, Jacob Bosworth of Canaan, Mara Nickerson of South China, Glenice McGregor of Pittsfield, Jessica Cousins of Farmington, and Thalia Barden of Cornville.

Threshold’s new director and dean, Becky Dennison, welcomed the students and audience. “Education is 24/7. It’s what you do, and it’s what you eat. It’s how you live, and it’s who you are in the world,” she said.

“Sometimes we all need a reminder that we do have choice,” Dennison said. “Even when life feels totally out of our control, we have choice. We have the choice of HOW we are in the world. We have the choice of HOW we are with people around us, and how we choose to interact with others.”

Guest speaker and program designer Emanuel Pariser asked the graduates to realize the importance of what they have achieved and to be thankful for their own persistence as well as the support they received on the way from family and friends.

More than 60 family, friends and relatives attended the ceremony to congratulate the graduates.

Threshold students may be pregnant, may have a parent with physical or emotional challenges such as high anxiety, or may have been home-schooled and never been in public school before.

Each student is assigned one primary certified teacher or advisor who will help them to complete high school. Primary teachers work with students at home whenever possible, through the internet, or on the MeANS campus.

Mentors Kenlyn Clark, Juliana Rothschild, Mahlon Bickford and Grace Hilmer presented awards for independence, doggedness and succeeding against the odds to each of their graduates.

Each student gave a speech describing his or her own perspective on graduating.

MeANS Board Chairwoman Cheryl Bulmer expressed her support for the families, graduates and staff: “We are all about changing one life at a time here at MeANS, and we are grateful to be on the campus and collaborating with Good Will Hinckley to bring a needed program like Threshold to this area.”

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