By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — Chris Costa of Bristol was doing fine in his chosen profession of carpentry and painting until about three years ago when he started feeling poorly.
He said he was on a job at the home of a nurse with whom he spoke to about his very swollen and purple thumb. Costa, who is 50, said the nurse went to work and the next day told him he should see a doctor immediately.
Told he had psoriatic arthritis, he was out of work for about a year before he entered a pharmaceutical trial at Dartmouth Medical School for an experimental drug that he said helped him immensely until the trial suddenly ended.
He began applying for jobs at local and chain stores hoping for a job that would include health insurance after being told the medicine would cost him $1,200 a month. He said he believes that one of the reasons he couldn't get hired was because he had no high school diploma.
With his arthritis in remission and after looking into a graduate equivalent program in Plymouth, he called Laconia Adult Education Director Peggy Selig, who encouraged him to come in for a visit with her.
"He only needed three credits," said Selig, beaming at her newest high school graduate.
Costa said he went to Malden High School in Massachusetts, but didn't like school very much. He said during his younger years he needed special attention but would get embarrassed when the teachers would take him out of one class to attend another.
Although his grades weren't bad, he said he had an attendance problem once he hit his senior year. With tardiness and absences exhausted, he said one day his grandmother, with whom he lived, was sick and he took her to the doctor.
"I was tardy, then suspended, and had lost too many days to graduate," he said.
Costa took the mandatory economics program he needed to graduate and two electives – one class in history and one class in current events. He earned three A's from three different teachers.
He said he loved the class taught by social studies teacher Laurel Hubbard about the Vietnam War, which he said was always of particular interest to him.
Now he is back to work and doing a lot of subcontracting business.
Costa said that, armed with his high school diploma, he will likely look for more permanent employment. He said he also has interests in continuing his woodworking skills and is hoping the Adult Education Program continues to offer these.
He also said he has taken a class in stained glass and has a fantasy of creating special doorways.
The Adult Education Graduation Ceremony is Friday at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium. Bank of New Hampshire CEO Mark Primeau is the keynote speaker.
Adult Education graduate Chris Costa joins retiring program director Peggy Selig outside of her offices at the Laconia High School (Gail Ober/Laconia Daily Sun)
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