"They've seen family members or friends at grad, and now it's their turn."
For director Todd Folkett, that's the biggest point of graduation day at Morden Adult Education (MAE).
With a class consisting of fourteen members, Folkett proudly defines this year's graduates as resilient and hard-working, especially in the light of the challenges created by the pandemic, and numerous weather events this past winter and spring.
"A lot of these people are coming back after multiple years of being out of the classroom, and some of them, maybe the typical high school stream wasn't ideal for them, and so that's why maybe they were a credit [or] two short, or other circumstances arose during those years of grade eight through twelve types of thing. So for them, it maybe wasn't the experience that they liked or that fit for them. So for them to be able to come to this point and come back and make that commitment, it's inspirational."
With many graduates having children of their own, Folkett says they provide a role model that demonstrates the value of education and perseverance. They were forced to deal with the uncertainty of having in-person versus at-home classes and poor travel conditions for those that commuted to class.
"It takes a community to help out. A lot of these people had extended families who have helped. That is the key to adult ed. It's not just the one person, [but] many fingers in the pie that help."
This year's class was smaller than in past years, which usually number from eighteen to twenty-six students. Folkett credits the pandemic for the shrinkage. The age of the student body ranged from nineteen years to much older.
"You know, for most of these people that come back, it's a big step. It's intimidating to come back and get back into the student role, especially with jobs and children and spouses and all the other requirements that take up a day. So that's probably one of the keys for these people. It's such a fantastic day to get to this point just by knowing how much they've had to do."
Folkett says their mature students acted as supportive leaders, passing on life skills, life stories and life knowledge to the younger ones.
Many graduates are now looking to extend their education.