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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Alvirne HS grad overcame homelessness, destructive disease for graduation

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of a series of profiles of graduating high school seniors.

HUDSON – Josiah Rutter said he probably won’t walk off the stage at his graduation because he’ll be so stunned that it’s all actually happening. ...

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of a series of profiles of graduating high school seniors.

HUDSON – Josiah Rutter said he probably won’t walk off the stage at his graduation because he’ll be so stunned that it’s all actually happening.

“A day or two later, reality might finally hit me,” Rutter said when pondering his unlikely graduation, which is scheduled for June 12.

Rutter, an 18-year-old senior at Alvirne High School, said his road to graduation has been bumpier than most. Rutter is diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, overcame being homeless going into his senior year and had to start a support network from scratch.

During his junior year, Rutter left home shortly after New Year’s Day 2013 and stayed with his grandparents for three months. During that time frame, Rutter missed school and he needed to catch up.

“I don’t believe I would have been able to catch up without Kathy Kaas,” Rutter said about the first keystone of his all-
important support network.

Kaas is a family friend of Rutter’s grandparents and Rutter describes Kaas as his “first kick.”

“She helped teach me a lot of things I’m using in my social life because I have Asperger’s,” Rutter said. “It’s a mild form of it so the main aspect of my life affected by it is the social aspect, so I have major difficulty picking up on the social cues.”

After Rutter’s junior year he went to live with his aunt and uncle in Rhode Island, but he had a blow out with his relatives over a broken vacuum cleaner and stormed out of the house. He began walking down a major highway barefoot and made it two exits before cops finally picked him up.

“I was mad at them for being mad at me, I guess,” Rutter said. “I was convinced I could make it back to New Hampshire.”

Rutter took responsibility for his actions and eventually made the situation right. He poured his efforts into leadership training at Camp Canonicus, which is also in the Ocean State.

Rutter describes his Camp Canonicus experience as “the second kick.”

Rutter had expected to be returning to New Hampshire for his senior year but things began falling apart when the teenager realized he’d have no place to stay.

The crisis was averted when Rutter discovered the Southern New Hampshire Rescue Mission on Nashua’s Chestnut Street.

“It took me all of 10 minutes to find three or four places for me,” Rutter said.

Once at the rescue mission, Rutter’s life finally began falling into place. Soon after, in October, Rutter was placed at the Nashua Children’s Home by the court system.

Rutter, who describes himself as an “avid Christian,” began attending church regularly and arranged a support network for rides before and after school.

One woman Rutter got help from, Patricia Worsley, went “above and beyond,” according to Rutter. Worsley helped Rutter get rides and even bought him phone cards to connect with relatives and friends.

Rutter said teachers at Alvirne High School also helped him succeed and the soon-to-be-
graduated senior thanked economics teacher Mike Lee.

Lee introduced Rutter to his current mentor, Jim Gallagher.

Gallagher has a story similar to Rutter’s and was living on his own by the age of 16.

“Mr. Gallagher, he’s been a mentor,” Rutter said. “He helped me through the application process, school and all around.”

Now, Rutter is looking forward into the future and sees bright prospects on the horizon.

Rutter plans to take classes at Nashua Community College this fall and get his core requirements out of the way before heading to the New Hampshire Institute of Art, which is Rutter’s ideal school.

Rutter said he wants to major in photography and work for himself someday. He’s already got the ball rolling. Last month, Rutter shot his first paid family portrait.

After graduating, Rutter will move into transitional living at the Nashua Children’s Home. He is currently in independent living and already has his first job lined up for this summer at Staples.

Of his accomplishments, which will finally be recognized at graduation, Rutter said “it’s hard to put it into words really.”

He knows he climbed a mountain to even get to graduation but Rutter advises others, who may someday be in his position, not to see the mountains as unpassible.

“Any mountain is just a hurdle,” Rutter said. “Don’t see it as a mountain. See it as an open doorway.”

Rutter said finding a network of people who love him also “helped tremendously.”

“They’re out there,” Rutter said. “Those who are willing to be there for you are out there.”