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June 19, 1998     Cape Gazette
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June 19, 1998
 

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16 - CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, June 19 - June 25, 1998 Groves School graduates recognized at Sussex Correctional Institute By Rosanne Pack There were commencement speakers, there were honor gradu- ates, scholarships were awarded and there was a reception for fam- ilies and friends following the cer- emonies. And then, the graduates returned to their cell block at Sus- sex Correctional Institution (SCI). The 24 graduates of the James H. Groves High School, who are inmates of SCI, are among 134 in- mates of Delaware prisons who completed high school this year. The residents of the southern- most correctional facility in the state were recognized and hon- ored Jne 10 in ceremonies that took place in Nehemiah Chapel. Dr. Howard Ralph, founder of the Groves School, delivered the commencement address. Of the graduates, 16 earned honor roll status and two were re- cipients of the Irene Graham Scholarship: The academic records and general attitudes of Vaughn Curtis and John Keper- ling Jr. brought them the scholar- ships that are given in honor of Graham, a long-time teacher and role model for SCI inmates. Corrections system officials, teachers and officials of the Groves School spoke congratula- tory and encouraging words to the new high school graduates, but the words that came from the gradu- ates themselves might have made the biggest impression on those attending the ceremonies. Chosen by their fellow gradu- ates, student speakers Danny Wa- ters and Robert Harding IV didn't mince words when they talked of their own experiences on their way to earning their diplomas. Waters said he had a wonderful support system, but he knows that he still has a long way to go. "It's taken patience and perse- verance," he said. "We have to re- alize that technological advances keep us from meeting criteria for getting good jobs, so we have to try to catch up. "But God places no burdens on us greater than we can bear. Now, we have to utilize the skills we've obtained through our education." Harding's family listened in the audience as he told of making bad choices that led him to incarcera- tion. He had a history of dropping in and out of school that stretched over years. "In life, we are all faced with choices, and I made a lot of bad ones. In 1995, I was back in prison for the fourth time, and I finally got ready to settle down," he said. His voice quavering, he contin- ued, "I have two wonderful chil- dren and I want to give them love and attention. They are waiting for their father to come home and give them love and support. "I have wonderful parents who never gave up on me, and patient, encouraging teachers. I would ad- vise you to never give up. To prove something, start with your education." Gina Lobaccaro, one of the Groves teachers at SCI, presented the Irene Graham Scholarships. She described Graham as a teacher who was dedicated to life-long learning. The present-day teacher said that the former teacher worked enthusiastically with in- mates at SCI and served as a role model to students and inmates who serve as volunteer tutors. After the ceremony, several of the inmates praised the volunteer tutor system in SCI. Some said that they would not have complet- ed their schooling without encour= agement, and sometimes good-na- tured coercion, from their tutors. Honor students Robert Brabson Jr. and Keir Brandon said that they had a lot of support that helped keep them motivated enough to earn their diplomas. Both said that the inmate tutors played a major role in their schooling. "Support from the inside and the outside is the key to our suc- cess," Brandon said. Grandville Brown, another graduate, said, "You come to real- ize that to be successful, the work can't stop after you leave the classroom; you have to put in the time outside the classroom and have a lot of determination. After all, the person to benefit is your- self, and the one you hurt if you fail is yourself." Brown is taking a computer course now. "I would like to give some encouragement to some young kids who don't think that things are going too well for them," he said. "I can say, 'Look at me; I started, and I made it.' " Brown is one of many graduates who said that they will continue their education. Curtis, one of the Graham Scholarship recipients, said he definitely plans to com- plete a college degree. He faces more than a decade remaining of his sentence, but he is optimistic that he will not have to serve the entire time. Several others expressed the same hope; they spoke of years left but what they could hope for with hard work and perseverance. Tutor Jeff Sullivan is sentenced to life with possibility of parole, but he dwells on the rewards of tu- toring rather than his future. He has been with the tutoring pro- gram for five years, and he smiles when he talks about his insistent manner of getting students to complete what they start. Other tutors, such as Richard Howe, credit Sullivan with serving as an example that encouraged them to volunteer. Howe said he quit school in 1971, but started again and gradu- ated last year. He is now an ap- prentice tutor. Sullivan tutors a variety of sub- jects, including English, history, science and English as a second language. He also performs cleri- cal duties for teachers. He said that there is no failing or flunking in SCI. "The big thing is that it is all Rosanne Pack photos Above, Sussex Correctional Institution inmates who are graduates of James H. Groves High School file out of the Nehemiah Chapel after receiving their diplomas. Below, right, enjoying a family moment during the graduation reception, scholarship recip- ient Vauglm Curtis, right, shares pride in his diploma with son James Deshields and fianc4 Isidra Cancel. Below, left, receiving a hug along with his diploma, Christopher Craig, former- ly of Rehoboth Beach, is congratulated by teacher Gina Lobaccaro during graduation exercis- es at SCI. Craig earned honor roll status. self-paced. There are different levels, different needs," he said. "Students might ask themselves why they are doing this, how are they going to get through it. "I might come down hard on them, or I might back off and let them take a break. But I check up on them. I tell them, 'Come to school. Don't even do the lessons; just come.' "What I get back is very re- warding. I get more enjoyment out of my volunteer tutoring than any- thing else I do." Watching her students enjoy a reception with their friends and families, Lobaccaro said, "In many cases, this is the only posi- tive thing that they have done. They have worked very hard and they show a lot of promise. I think they will keep going." The Groves School graduates at SCI are Brabson*, Brandon*, Frank Bowden*, Brown, Ronald Cannon III, Christopher Craig*, Curtis, Terrance Davis, Daniel Diem*, David Fowler*, Mighty's EI-Soco Gibbs, Harding*, Schawn Helm*, Clarence Hendricks*, Keperling*, Michael Laurenzi*, Joseph Miller Jr., Christopher Orzechowski*, Robert Parkhurst II*, Devon Reynolds, Tromayne Robinson Sr., Waters*,Bruce White* and Kenneth Williamson. (* denotes honor roll students) Legg uninjured in Sussex crop duster crash By Kerry Kester John H. Legg, 43, of Rehoboth Beach, was not injured when the aircraft he was operating crashed near Delmar at 8:13 p.m., Wednesday, June 17. According to Cpl. Walter New- ton, Delaware State Police spokesman, Legg was operating a Piper Arrow 36 along Sussex 507, approximately one-tenth mile west of Route 76, when Legg was forced to land the propeller plane in a wheat field. "He was crop dusting a cabbage field, when he experienced some engine problems," said Newton. "The engine stalled; Legg took evasive action and landed the air- craft in a wheat field across Route 76." Legg was not injured. The 1968 aircraft sustained mi- nor damage. The plane is regis- tered to Air Ag Inc. of Laurel. It's use is restricted to agriculture and pest control. Delaware State Police officers from Troop 5 secured the scene of Legg's crash until investigators from the Federal Aviation Admin- istration (FAA) could arrive June 18 to begin their investigation. According to Jim Peters, FAA spokesman from the New York office, the crash is currently con- sidered an incident rather than an accident, because there were nei- ther serious injuries nor serious damage to the plane. FAA investigations can take up to several months to complete. In- spectors conduct a thorough in- vestigation that typically includes studying data pertaining to the area in which the crash occurred, examining specifics of the air- craft's condition, checking main- tenance records, reviewing the pi- lot's record, interviewing the pilot and interviewing witnesses, if there are any. Legg's is the second aircraft ac- cident in Sussex County in two weeks. Vernon Hammett, 25, walked away from a crash site where the 1966 Cessna 150G he was operating crashed into the limbs of a densely wooded area near Sussex 303 and Route 5, June 3. Like Legg, Hammett crashed after having engine trouble. According to the National Transportation Safety Depart- ment, of the 1,854 crop-duster ac- cidents that occurred from 1984 to 1994, 164 involved fatalities.