PASS program graduates celebrate resilience, achievement
A small class from the Wareham PASS program celebrated their hard-earned graduation from high school at a ceremony on June 10.
The students earned their degree through the Wareham Cooperative Alternative School Pathways to Academic Student Success (PASS) program, which allows students to take night classes instead of the traditional high school program, often while working.
Program principal Jane Fondulis said the graduates all proved their strength and hard work over the past year and a half, as classes went online during the covid-19 pandemic.
“Despite the challenges, you still connected. You persisted. You persevered,” Fondulis said. “You demonstrated tremendous resilience. On days when it would have been far easier to have your Chromebook stay dark, you logged in, you showed up, and you got the work done.”
Dr. Kimberly Shaver-Hood said she hoped the graduates would experience the joy and satisfaction of further achievements throughout their life — through work, travel, or with a partner.
“Your graduation signifies that you have reached your goal. Your pathway to this point may have been filled with roadblocks, detours, and obstacles,” Shaver-Hood said. “And this past fourteen months — difficult does not even begin to describe it. But you stayed the course, adapted, and you got it done.”
Student speaker Dahlia Amaral said she first enrolled in the PASS program after struggling with anxiety through her freshman year studying at Wareham High School — often fighting through panic attacks on a near-daily basis.
She said she considered giving up, and thought she might not be able to graduate.
“I didn’t believe in myself,” Amaral said. “That, however, changed when I enrolled in the PASS program. Right away, I knew I would like it here.”
Amaral said that from her first day at the PASS program, she felt comfortable, and she knew that the staff and her classmates were pushing for her to succeed.
Amaral said she was nervous about the transition to online learning, but the “amazing teachers and administrators” made it feel the same.
Through her time in the program, Amaral said she has grown as a person and made friendships she knows will last. She’s also learned how to work with her anxiety — as she proved through her eloquent speech. Amaral will be attending Bristol Community College in the fall.
“No matter what we all faced on a daily basis, we still did it. We might have taken a different path, but we still have the same outcome,” Amaral said. “Every single one of us could have given up, but we didn’t. We decided we didn’t want that. We all pushed ourselves. All of you should be proud of yourselves.”
This year’s graduates are Mylisha Dinger, Sophia France-Collins, Jaleesia Johnson-Hughes, Taeshawn Miranda, Dahlia Amaral, Shakai Schoonmaker, Cameron Maxim, and Arthur Brandao-Mendes.