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PAE Graduation is June 27

Portland Adult Education (PAE) will host its 176th graduation ceremony on Thursday, June 27, at 6 p.m. at Merrill Auditorium. The PAE Class of 2024 includes 41 students who have earned high school diplomas and 45 students who have passed the HiSET test (formerly GED). 

PAE students can range in age from their late teens to senior citizens. They haven’t followed the usual path to high school graduation for many reasons. The reasons can include political strife or social unrest interrupting their schooling in their home countries, homelessness, working full-time to support their families, immigrating to a new country and having to learn a new language, and having a disability. Some PAE students have already completed high school or college, but in another country and language. 

What all PAE students have in common is a determination to succeed. Here are some facts about the Class of 2024 that illustrate that:

●      More than 42 percent of this class plans to head straight to college.

●      Most of the graduates are employed and preparing for career enhancement. The most common reasons that they gave for wanting to receive their high school diploma or credential are being able to access higher education and improving their employment prospects.

●      Seven graduates not only earned a diploma this year, but also have previously completed PAE certificates to work in fields such as renewable energy, banking, and healthcare.

The following students will speak at the graduation ceremony: 

●      Tiago Augusto: Tiago completed PAE’s Teller Training program and earned a diploma within two years. Serving as a volunteer interpreter helped accelerate not only his own progress but that of other Portuguese newcomers. He is originally from Angola. He plans to continue his studies at Southern Maine Community College.

●      Esther Chizoba Nneke. Esther and her family endured passage through the Darien Gap between Colombia and Panama and a long interval of homelessness in Portland, but she still managed to earn a diploma in one year.  She is originally from Nigeria. She is preparing for a career in healthcare.

PHOTO: Class of 2023 graduate Isadora Barros smiles proudly after last year's PAE commencement ceremony at Merrill Auditorium on June 22, 2023.

The Portland Public Schools is Maine’s largest school district, with more than 6,600 students, and it’s also the most diverse. About one-third of the district’s students come from homes where languages other than English are spoken—a total of 53 languages. Approximately 48 percent of the district’s students are white and 52 percent are students of color. Nearly half of PPS students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals. 

Portland Adult Education: Portland Adult Education (PAE), which is part of the Portland Public Schools, provides a diverse range of programs that empower adults to achieve their educational, professional, and personal goals. To learn more visit