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Domestic abuse, dyslexia, money troubles could not hold these students back

Barbara Wright is receiving the Most Improved award among the students getting high school equivalency certificates on Friday, Aug. 24, 2018, through LearningQuest - Stanislaus Literacy Centers.
Barbara Wright is receiving the Most Improved award among the students getting high school equivalency certificates on Friday, Aug. 24, 2018, through LearningQuest - Stanislaus Literacy Centers. LearningQuest

More than 80 adults received certificates Friday, Aug. 24, in Modesto for completing high school later than most folks do it. Three of them got special awards for beating obstacles.

LearningQuest - Stanislaus Literacy Center, based on 11th Street, borrowed Modesto High School for its graduation ceremony. It was for people earning high school equivalency certificates, which typically involve about six months of work through the center.

The awards:

  • Brett Nester received the Best Effort award. “Raising a child with special needs and having survived domestic abuse, Nester has not allowed life’s obstacles to deter her on the path to educational success,” a news release said. She passed all five parts of the exam on her first try and helped other students with their work.
  • Barbara Wright won the Best Effort honor. She had dropped out of school in ninth grade and later was diagnosed at LearningQuest with dyslexia. “A unique symptom of this learning disability is that she is able to read both upside down and right side up with comparable fluency. With this information, LearningQuest instructors adapted their lessons to accommodate Barbara, who has passed her first HSE test and whose reading has already improved by four levels.”

  • Angela Morales won for Greatest Achievement. She is a young mother who enrolled in the program in February but dropped out “due to a financial catastrophe that left her and her family stranded in Arizona ... However, Angela returned strong and, in her second attempt, completed the remaining tests, finally graduating.”

Nester and Morales hope to become nurses. Wright aims to work as a chef and already has cooked many meals for homeless people.

New director for Central West Ballet

Modesto’s Central West Ballet has a new executive director. Karin Reenstierna has taken over the post from Cynthia Coughlin, who retired earlier this year after being with the company for more than 13 years, according to Artistic Director Rene Daveluy.

Reenstierna was a CWB board member for seven years, including holding the positions of secretary and treasurer. She was appointed executive director in March. She’s in charge of the finances, fund-raising and other administrative duties for the professional ballet company, which also directs a dance academy.

And finally ...

Finance of America, a national mortgage lender, has opened its first Modesto branch at 605 Standiford Ave., Suite K.

Its manager is Brenda Olson, a 30-year veteran of the industry who previously was with California Mortgage Associates in Modesto. Loan officer Amalia Lopez-Lau also was with that company and has 26 years years of experience, including service to Spanish-speaking clients.

The office will hold a ribbon-cutting and open house Tuesday, Aug. 28, 4 to 6 p.m., with hors d’ouevres, drinks and music. RSVP to 209-340-1228.

Names of Note recognizes individuals and organizations for their achievements and contribution to their communities. Submit items to jholland@modbee.com.

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