23 hard-earned high school diplomas will be handed out at LAE graduation

LACONIA — After his mother died, 20-year-old Hunter Lucas went into a funk.

Diagnosed with ADHD and moving from Gilford to Belmont to Laconia, Lucas said he finally gave up on high school. He tried a couple of other types of schools — mostly online — but just couldn't stay interested.

"I had a lot happen to me in high school," Lucas said, so he took a year off.

Last year, he came to Laconia Adult Education and on June 6, he will get his high school diploma.

Elaina Powell, who will also get her diploma on June 6, has a very different story.

Once an elementary student at Belmont Elementary School, in fourth grade she started to get sick, missing enough school that her parents were forced to home-school her.

A year later, she was diagnosed with chronic Lyme's disease and has never been able to return physically to school. Fighting a series of infections, she continued her homeschooling with the Shaker Regional School District as her home district, often taking advantage of on-line classes sanctioned by the state department of education.

Needing four credits to graduate, Powell said she discussed Laconia Adult Education with her guidance councilor who told her the program may be too demanding because of the attendance requirements — only two absences are allowed per class.

Nevertheless she enrolled this past September and earned two of the four credits she needed to pass. By January, she needed two more credits but was taken ill in April and underwent open-heart surgery where surgeons removed a golf-ball sized blood clot from her right atrium.

Working with Adult Ed and Shaker Regional, Powell was able to finish her last two credits.

Last week Powell and Lucas had a spirited discussion in the tiny Adult Eduction office at Laconia High School about why this program met their needs.

"I consider myself more mature than most teenagers," Lucas said, noting that one of the things he didn't like about conventional high school was that he felt with his personal losses at such a young age that he didn't have a lot of common with most of the students.

Powell said she would have had a similar experience in a conventional high school, but also said the teachers in the Adult Education Program were more willing to help her individually than she thought they would be.

Both agreed their individual life experiences were such that they wouldn't fit into a regular high school and both wouldn't have had a diploma without the program.

"Sometimes public school gets repetitive and tedious," said Powell with Lucas, adding: "Some people aren't built for it."

Lucas, his diploma now about to be safely in hand, said he needs to find a job. His ultimate goal is to become a gunsmith and is hoping one of the local gun manufacturers will hire him so he can get enough experience to go to one of the country's gunsmithing schools.

Powell has the dream of studying cardiac sonography and specializing in ultra-sound technology with an emphasis in psychology — her favorite class in the Adult Ed program.

With Lyme's disease constantly a detriment to her health, she said she knows it make take her longer to get her degree, but added, "Heck, I didn't think I finish this because of the surgery."

The Laconia Adult Education Program will have its graduation ceremony in the Laconia High School Auditorium on Friday June 6 at 7 p.m.

Senior Divisional Manager for New Hampshire Ball Bearing Gary Groleau, who is a 1974 graduate of Laconia High School, will be the commencement speaker.


Cutline: (Lucas and Powell) Laconia Adult Education graduates Hunter Lucas and Elaina Powell give the thumbs-up during a visit to the Adult-Ed offices last week. Both will get their diplomas on June 6. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)