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Friday, August 1, 2014

Students win the battle to graduate high school

NASHUA – It took Damaris Nieves and 15 of her peers a little longer to get their high school diplomas, but they made it.

Nieves had an uphill battle to graduation. She dropped out of school at 16 and worked at Wendy’s for a while. She said it was hard when her peers began graduating without her. ...

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NASHUA – It took Damaris Nieves and 15 of her peers a little longer to get their high school diplomas, but they made it.

Nieves had an uphill battle to graduation. She dropped out of school at 16 and worked at Wendy’s for a while. She said it was hard when her peers began graduating without her.

“I knew I had to make some big changes in my life,” said Nieves. She went to MY TURN, an organization that helps young adults further their education and career goals. “Within months, I was enrolled in the city high school,” she said.

On Thursday, she was one of 16 students from 4 schools – Nashua High North and South, Nashua Adult and Community school and Bedford High School – to received their diplomas after completing summer school and earning their necessary credits.

Speakers praised graduates for the determination and perseverance.

“Some of you have definitely taken the road less traveled … but you’ve made it all the same,” said Principal of Nashua High School North Marianne Busteed.

“I’m sure all of you will have a story to someday tell to your children. You persevered … you kept with it and made it happen and that’s the most important thing. You’re here and you did it,” Busteed said.

Now that they’ve reached graduation, Busteed asked students to work toward their dreams and live their lives with compassion.

“Your kindness and your compassion for others will be the thing most remembered about you. True happiness is what we give, not what we get,” she said.

Nieves, the student speaker, told how she found out she was pregnant shortly after enrolling, but was undeterred. “I knew this meant I had to work harder,” she said.

She was put on bed rest, but she still kept up with her studies. Nieves said the school’s staff brought schoolwork to her home so she could continue.

Today she has a healthy baby girl, a diploma from Nashua Adult and Community School, and she’s looking to the future. Nieves is already enrolled in LNA Health Careers.

“We could have given up, we could have decided to quit, but we didn’t,” she said.

Principal Rekha Luther said the future is theirs.

“Think back to the first day of school … reflect on the journey you’ve taken. Learn from your mistakes and help make a better future.”

Tina Forbes can be reached at 594-6402 or tforbes@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Forbes on Twitter (@Telegraph_TinaF).