Father, grandmother, daughter.
The trio has always been close – but never did they picture themselves as classmates.
“It was just kinda like a thought on the fly really,” said Chris Dieter.
Dieter dropped out of high school when he was 16, but one day as he sat in an Ellsworth Adult Education meeting for his daughter, Carly, he decided he would join her in her high school journey.
“It was just complete shock. I wasn’t expecting him to say that at all,” said Carly Freeman, his daughter.
Then, an even bigger surprise.
“If she’s gonna do it I’m gonna do it. If Chris is gonna do it. I’m gonna do it,” said Carly’s grandmother, Eileen Freeman.
Eileen immediately followed suit – 42 years after dropping out.
The three of them have been working towards their high school degrees the past year.
Vanessa Richards worked one-on-one with each of them.
“Attendance was sporadic. We were even wondering if even one of them would finish,” said Richards, an educator at Ellsworth Adult Education.
But on Wednesday three generations of this family will receive a diploma.
“I’m 58 and I did it. If I can do it anybody can do it,” said Eileen.
“I’ve been a single father for seven, eight years now. Raising my daughter on my own. I work crazy hours at work – nights, weekends, daytime…so I didn’t have time to go back to school,” said Chris.
“He’s tired of working hard and he is considering other career options, and how right down to the wire he wanted to finish first before Carly. And he did,” said Richards.
Carly was just accepted into Southern Maine Community College and wants to become a forest ranger.
“Here I am today and I’m so proud of myself and I could never ever say that before. And I’m just proud of how much I’ve accomplished in such a little time,” said Carly.
“It’s really wonderful to hear people say they believe in themselves after being a part of this program. Today, we are experiencing the beauty of love,” said Ellsworth Adult Ed Director Anne Sargent.