Congratulatory cheers and applause filled the theater at New Milford High School last week during the Adult Ed graduation and closing ceremony.

Twenty-seven students were recognized with diplomas, acknowledging their discipline and hard work in the academic program.

“It’s always nice for our students to be shown as successful individuals who persist to become all they can be,” said Program Manager Christy Martin.

The ceremony was attended by school staff, members of the Board of Education, as well as Adult Ed students and graduates’ family and friends.

In addition to the awarding of diplomas, numerous awards were presented.

“You are all shining stars in my book,” said teacher Jennifer LaCava in her address to graduates. “You’re strong, capable students, and men and women who we are all proud to know.”

Mayor Pete Bass, Interim Superintendent of Schools Stephen Tracey, Assistant Superintendent of Schools Alisa DiCorpo and teacher Justin Ongley also shared their congratulations.

Adult Ed award winners

Edna Hernandez and Judith Sanislas (Award for Positive Attitude); Jake Paessler (Award for VHS Transitions for Academic Excellence); Alexandra Philbroke, Norm Solis, Michelle Racowski and Rosa Torres (Award for Career Pathways, CNA); Jack DosSantos (Award for Social Studies, civics); Dorian Robertine (Award for Social Studies, principles of human resources); Matilda Comaskey and Dorian Robintine (Award for English, World Literature); Martin Walsh, Sage Willis and Caleb Hayden (Award for English, voices and values); Leonel Salvador, Hector Murillo and Lauren Pecora (Award for English, journalism); Patricia Bertram (Award for English, visual literature); Hunter Daab and Jack DosSantos (Award for Math, applied math); Ariosto Cardenas (Award for Model Student); Jack Paessler (Award for Exceptional Achievement Overall); Maria Guaman, Carlos Rios, Gladys Rios, Norma Castillo, Manny Suarez and Leticia Sanango (Award for ESL, Citizenship Award); Ziu Hua Lin, Agnado DaSailva Jr. and Lizhen Chen (Award for ESL, Commitment to Education); and Hunter Daab (Award for Commitment to Online Education).

“The sky is the limit,” Bass said as he addressed the audience.

In their remarks, Tracey and DiCorpo offered graduates general tips for their future jobs, relationships and educational endeavors.

Ongley reflected on the joy of watching students “continue to reinvent themselves into new worlds,” while LaCava shared sentiments of appreciation for being a part of the Adult Ed program that offers “an opportunity for students who need a different path.”

Speaker Nick Borak was the first graduate to address his classmates.

“We are the ones no one expects to make it and yet here we are,” he said, glancing out at fellow graduates. “We will grow and mature from this rare opportunity.”

Graduate Sage Willis followed Nick, giving a heartfelt address that focused on the value of education and personal investment.

“Education is invaluable … it’s a resource and one we shouldn’t take lightly,” Willis said.

He also discussed the role of mistakes in our lives and how they “shape us.”

“What would we be without mistakes on our way to success?” he posed to his classmates. “Failure is merely an opportunity to try something again or go a different way.”

Joining Borek and Willis as graduates are Katrina Campagnale, Matilda Comaskey, Tara Connolly, Hunter Daab, Daniel Engstrom, Hailey Guevarez, Sterling Hatch, Anissa Johnson, Jack Kinsley, Milenny Lourenco, Jeremiah Lounsbury, Sage McClinsey, Robert Mitchell, Jake Paessler, Madison Palmer, Lauren Pecora, Alexandra Philbrook, Leo Riedl, Dorian Robertine, Mariah Robinson, Gabriel Rodriguez, Sydney Rubino, Setira Taylor-Wray, Joseph Tapia and Rosa Torres.

For more photographs, see www.newmilfordspectrum.com