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Adult Education diplomas: Tying the past to the present

Steve Ranson
sranson@lahontanvalleynews.com
Steve Ranson/ LVN photos

Tying the past to the present gave graduates from the school district’s Adult Education Diploma Program a sense of their origins and final rewards in obtaining their diplomas Thursday night at the high school theater.

Bus Scharmann, interim superintendent of the Churchill County School District, delivered the graduation remarks and told of how one woman persevered for most of her life before earning a high school diploma almost a half century after she last attended high school.

Before the ceremony began, Scharmann privately addressed the graduates and offered encouragement for their future endeavors and thanked them for their hard work. In his formal remarks before the graduates, families and friends, however, Scharmann tied graduation into choices people make in life such as the 19 students earning a diploma.

“There was something inside to take this from a want to an actual action,” Scharmann said. He added the voice inside the graduates said “this was the right thing to do” and you did it.

Scharmann, though, was no stranger to seeing students push themselves to earn a diploma. He began his career with Western Nevada Community College in 1973 and stayed with the college for 37 years, the final 11 years as the dean of the Fallon campus.

His comments, though, in bridging the past to the present kept the students interested in his prepared remarks as he described the hardship his mother encountered with her education in the 1920s and ‘30s and then much later in her life

The retired WNC educator said his mother, who was born in 1921, moved with her family to California in 1929. Scharmann said his grandfather went from job to job, but finally, his grandfather was able to plant onions on 25 acres near the Stanislaus River. The rains came, and the fast-flowing river overflowed its banks and wiped out the entire crop, Scharmann said.

So, during the next growing season, Scharmann said the landowner fronted money to his grandfather to grow onions and figured the river would not rise to wipe out the onions.

“Next year the floods again wiped out the crops, and this time the house,” Scharmann recollected.

When his grandmother was only a junior in high school, she married at the age of 17 and eventually raised four children. Despite having a family and leaving school, Scharmann said his mother bought a beauty shop and then opened a second salon in Stockton.

“She became very committed,” Scharmann said of her work ethic.

“She liked her work as a businessman, but in her 60s, something was missing.”

Scharmann said his mother returned to Adult Education when she was 65 years old and finished her requirements two years later. After Scharmann’s father died, his mother relocated to Fallon from the San Joaquin Valley of Central California. He said his mother began enrolling in course at WNC to better herself with education.

“Something inside her told her that was the right thing to do,” he said.

Scharmann then directed his comments to the Class of 2013.

“You’re unique,” he stated. “Over 100 started this program, and you are the ones who completed it — that is really special.” I respect your decision and ability to do something. You stuck with it, and it was the right thing to do.”

Scharmann stressed the similarities between his mother and Thursday night’s graduates.

Several student comments during the reflection period also echoed Scharmann’s message.

Milissa Allen offered straightforward advice: “If you don’t have a high school diploma or GED, who cares how old you are. Go do it and don’t worry about what other people think.”

Dwight George hurried to the stage, stopped at the podium and faced his fellow graduates: “I’m proud of you guys. I am very glad to have you helping me, especially Arlene (Detomasi, Adult Education director) who was very patient and kind.” George then praised the audience. “Thank you for being here and supporting these people.”

Dwight George’s brother, Everett, thanked his mother, and grandparents for their support.

”I like who I am,” he said.

Taylor Dewey acknowledged family who had traveled to Fallon for the ceremony and thanked Detomasi for her support.

“It’s been a long ride for those in school who stayed there and finished up,” Dewey said,

Detomasi said the insurmountable odds and challenges in life that students faced in her program gave them the tenacity to do well and finish the requirements for earning a diploma. Near the end of the program, she thanked the students.

“I thank the graduates for all of your work,” she said. “You encourage me as a teacher in helping you reach your potential.”