LACONIA — Among the students receiving their diplomas during the Laconia Academy graduation ceremony on Friday night will be 19-year-old Victoria Yale, who has been recognized as an outstanding student in the program by both teachers and coordinator Peggy Selig.
Yale began taking classes at night during the fall semester 2014, where she enrolled in the two math classes that she needed to complete her degree requirements. Entering the academy was no easy task for this young woman, however, as two weeks prior to the start of her classes she gave birth to her daughter.
Getting a diploma was not Yale's top priority during her regular high school career, and due to her own personal struggles she dropped out of school by the start of her senior year at Gilford High School, and had intended on taking online classes instead. A few weeks into the classes however, she found that she was not interested in pursing an academic career and stopped working on her online classes. Then Yale found out she was pregnant, and reconsidered going to school, this time in the Laconia School District, as that was where her family now lived.
In an attempt to finish school Yale attended Laconia High School for one semester before permanently discontinuing her traditional education.
Following the birth of her daughter Yale decided that she owed it to her child to get her high school diploma, so she enrolled in Algebra I with Greg Schneburger and, Math Concepts and Algebraic Thinking with Ginnie Bean. The classes fell on Tuesday's and Thursday's each week throughout the fall semester, and Yale completed the course with a perfect attendance, despite having a baby at home.
When asked whether juggling parenting with school was difficult, especially at the beginning of her semester, Yale stated, "It wasn't too bad because I was able to do whatever homework I had while my daughter was napping, and while I was at school she stayed with my mom. I was doing it for her, so it was worth it."
Yale was determined to complete her high school education strong, putting in extra effort in the night school classes in order to complete the course with top marks. Taking time to get extra help in class when needed, Yale worked diligently to understand all concepts and complete all homework that was given each week, therefore finishing both courses with high averages, achieving an A plus in Algebra I.
The night school experience was better than traditional school, according to Yale, as the teachers gave students more individualized time and help, and the students were more accepting of her situation. "My classmates would always joke around asking when I was going to bring my daughter in for a visit. They were always supportive and kind, and never judged that I had a child so early in life."
Another supportive and non-judgmental individual in Yale's life was her former teacher at Gilford High School, Debra Laliberte, whom Yale had become close with prior to leaving high school. Yale had lost contact with Laliberte during her transition to Laconia, and had not shared with her that she was pregnant until after she had given birth. Upon visiting with her daughter this winter, Yale stated that Laliberte was excited and supportive of her decision to go back to school and receive her diploma. "Mrs.Laliberte was a teacher that really tried to make connections with her students and when she did would always be excited and enthusiastic for them, and proud of their accomplishments", says Yale.
Laliberte echoed the same sentiment stating, "I am incredibly proud of Victoria and all that she has accomplished. She is a brilliant student with strong goals, and I am so proud that she followed through to get her diploma. Her dedication to completing school even after having her daughter speaks to her resilience and determination."
Yale will graduate alongside the rest of the Laconia Academy 2015 graduating class tonight at 6 p.m. in the Laconia High School auditorium. "I am excited for graduation even though it is not really my thing, but my family is excited for me so I felt it was important that I attend the ceremony", said Yale.
Following graduation Yale hopes to work and go to school for cosmetology. Although formal education has not been the path that Yale has chosen during her educational journey, she hopes that her daughter will decide to complete public school without any breaks and with money already saved she hopes that college is in her daughters future.
CAPTION — Victoria Yale and her daughter. (Courtesy photo)
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