Names of Note: Modesto program lauds 74 who took a different path with high school

Another 74 people now have High School Equivalency certificates thanks to LearningQuest of Modesto.

They received them at a Friday evening ceremony in the Modesto High School auditorium, borrowed for the occasion by the downtown-based program.

They spent about six months on studies that, for various reasons, they could not complete as teenagers. Three of them were recognized for exceptional work.

Jillian Cody, 37, of Oakdale received the Best Effort award. She was homeless off and on and addicted to methamphetamine before finding LearningQuest.

“It’s been a 20-year process of getting my (certificate),” Cody said before the ceremony. “I’m more on the right path now than I have ever been in my life.”

She plans to enroll next spring at Modesto Junior College and become a drug and alcohol counselor. She has a 10-year-old son, Cameron.

Heddi Jameson, 32, of Modesto won the Most Improved award. She had struggled for years in school, then found through LearningQuest that she has dysgraphia, which affects writing skills.

“I just wasn’t grasping writing and spelling,” Jameson said. She does have a knack for seeing how things work and would like to study mechanical engineering, especially robotics.

“I always loved mechanics, electronics, taking things apart,” she said.

Beverly Hardee, 29, of Modesto got the Greatest Achievement award and was the class valedictorian. She entered LearningQuest soon after becoming homeless with sons Sean, 11, and Ronnie, 8.

Hardee got the OK to nearly double her studies to 22 hours per week so she could finish faster. She now has a home and plans to study administration of justice at MJC. She is thinking of working in corrections.

LearningQuest presented its Extraordinary Volunteer award to John Comer, 87. He has tutored there for 19 years after retiring as a graphic artist at the Crown Zellerbach paper company.

The high school certificate program is one of several at LearningQuest, also known as Stanislaus Literacy Centers. Last year, it provided free or low-cost instruction to nearly 1,200 adults in reading, writing, math and English.

LearningQuest recently launched its first children’s program, for kids with dyslexia.

Book donations expand

Realtor Scott Snyder started donating books to Turlock kindergartners in 2003. On Wednesday, the program added its first Modesto school.

Sipherd Elementary School joined the Home2Read Book-Give-Away Program. Students receive three books at the start of the school year to take home and read with parents and siblings. A fourth book awaits at year’s end.

The program has donated more than 8,000 books at five Turlock schools.

Snyder is broker-owner at Aspire Home Real Estate, based in Turlock. Its community service also includes efforts such as Aspire Fitness Challenge and Christ CanTree.

VOLT Institute shines

The Valley Occupational Learning and Technology (VOLT) Institute was named one of the top three programs in the Partnerships for Industry and Education award contest.

It will be recognized at the annual California Economic Summit, Nov. 7 and 8 in Fresno.

VOLT trains people for food processing and other fields the former Modesto Bee building at 14th and I streets. It is a partnership of the Stanislaus County Office of Education, Modesto Junior College and Opportunity Stanislaus.

And finally ...

Gov. Gavin Newsom has reappointed Modesto-based attorney Jane McAllister to the California Law Revision Commission. She has served since 2015 on the panel, which recommends reforms to the Legislature and governor.

McAllister has been a partner with husband Kirk at McAllister and McAllister Inc. since 1996. She was an associate at Damrell, Nelson, Schrimp, Pallios, Pacher and Silva from 1988 to 1996.

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

John Holland covers breaking news and has been with The Modesto Bee since 2000. He has covered agriculture for the Bee and at newspapers in Sonora and Visalia. He was born and raised in San Francisco and has a journalism degree from UC Berkeley.