To say the Kirkhart family has a strong connection to the Adult Learning Center would be an understatement. After being homeschooled, all seven of the Kirkhart children attended classes at the ALC to earn their high school equivalency certificates. Twenty-three year old David Kirkhart was no exception, earning his HiSET (formerely GED) in the Spring of 2014. But he didn’t stop there. Now he works as a helicopter mechanic in the Marine Corps and credits his time at the Adult Learning Center and the people there with providing him the tools he needed to reach his goals.
It was the fall of 2013 when David Kirkhart came through the doors of the ALC just like his siblings had before him. A family friend, Marie Hendra, has worked at the Adult Learning Center for 15 years and shared with David’s mother that her homeschooled children could prepare for and take the GED test at the ALC. The HiSET is a nine-hour test taken over two days and includes tests in the disciplines of reading, writing, math, science, and social studies. Kirkhart took the preparatory course and met Stephen Reid, a teacher at the ALC, and credits Reid with much of his success. He noted, “Stephen made a huge impact on my education, and I wouldn’t have made it without him, or his patience!”
Reid not only guided him through the HiSET process, but upon David’s graduation in June urged him to take the next step and enroll in the Get Ready for College courses offered by the ALC. Get Ready for College is a free program designed to prepare students for a successful college experience. The 16-week program helps students explore career opportunities, develop study skills, sharpen academic skills, and learn about college admissions and financial aid. It was just what Kirkhart needed to gain the confidence to take classes at the college level. Having never been to a traditional school building, Kirkhart’s time at the ALC eased him into what a classroom setting would be like. While at the ALC, Kirkhart drew the attention of many teachers and staff and was chosen to receive the Carol Kreick Scholarship upon his graduation from Get Ready for College. The scholarship recipient is “an individual who demonstrates diligence, perseverance, consistent work ethics and courage, and has shown personal growth throughout their journey of challenge, change and self-discovery as they complete their academic requirements at the Adult Learning Center.” He used the money to enroll at Nashua Community College and eventually moved on to online classes at Southern New Hampshire University.
While taking these courses Kirkhart realized that a college degree would be necessary to reach the goals he had set for himself. Due to the prohibitive cost of classes, he decided to pursue a path similar to that chosen by his brothers and enlist in the Marine Corps. He knew by doing so he could gain experience and training while working, and upon completion of his duty, take advantage of the generous GI Bill offered to military veterans. Kirkhart graduated from boot camp on June 17th, 2016, and is now stationed on Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) in New River, NC where he works as a hydraulic, systems, and airframe mechanic for the CH-53E Helicopters.
When speaking with Kirkhart, you can hear in his voice how much the Adult Learning Center means to him. When he returns to town later this winter he looks forward to visiting the school and speaking with current students about how important it is to continue their education. Kirkhart’s recent correspondence to a staff member encapsulates everything the ALC teachers and staff hope for our students. He wrote, “attending the Adult Learning Center was no doubt the turning point for my education and future career. Coming from a small educational background, the people at the ALC managed to make learning exciting and fun, and were always attentive to any learning needs I had. They were always encouraging, and always put the students first. They were slow to judge, quick to listen, and loving in everything they did, regardless of any background you came from!”