LearningWorks Celebrates 24 Graduates from YouthBuild
On Thursday, June 22, 2023, LearningWorks hosted its annual YouthBuild graduation ceremony at Deering Oaks Park in Portland. Twenty-four students celebrated their successful completion of the program in one of the largest graduation ceremonies in recent years. Graduates represented three different cohorts from the 2022-2023 program cycle.
YouthBuild is an alternative high school and job readiness program for young people aged 16 to 24 that have dropped out of traditional high school. In the course of our program, each student receives instruction and hands-on experience in both construction and culinary arts, obtaining industry certificates along the way. They also receive intensive academic instruction to prepare them to take their HiSET exams in order to achieve a high school credential.
Many of these graduates faced setbacks and challenges in traditional high school settings, and YouthBuild provided a much-needed alternative path to completing high school. A hallmark of the program is the supportive atmosphere created by caring and attentive YouthBuild staff. The graduates were cheered on by a large crowd of proud family, friends, and loved ones as well as LearningWorks board members and staff. Everyone enjoyed the fresh air and sunshine, especially in the midst of weeks of rain!
LearningWorks YouthBuild Program Director, Nate Snow, spoke about the students’ growth during the program and how their presence on the stage was a testament to their commitment and perseverance. In reference to the program’s regular “Word of the Day” exercise, he chose three special words to share with the graduates: skepticism, grit, and onus. He encouraged them to keep pursuing their next steps, whatever they may be. Some students have already entered the workforce or plan to do so while others are pursuing higher education or additional training at institutions like Southern Maine Community College and the SpaTech Institute. All of the students will continue receiving guidance and support from YouthBuild staff over the next year as they transition to whatever comes next.
The highlight of the program was hearing special words written by YouthBuild staff about each student and reflecting on their time with the program. Each graduate then received their diploma and a personalized gift. Gifts ranged from knife sets for the budding chefs to tools for an aspiring auto-mechanic and supplies for cosmetology school for a hopeful hair stylist.
Interim Executive Director, Leslie Tremberth, also gave brief remarks and introduced incoming Executive Director, Tom McLaughlin who congratulated the students on their achievement.
We are so incredibly proud of these students! We also want to offer special thanks to the donors and sponsors who support YouthBuild, helping LearningWorks provide alternative education opportunities designed to ensure the success of learners whose needs are not met by traditional systems. We could not do this work without them and are incredibly grateful for their support.
See more photos from this special day on the LearningWorks Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LearningWrks