Nova Scotia

Grandmother, granddaughter graduate from high school on same day

A Nova Scotia grandmother and granddaughter are graduating from high school on the same day this month, decades after the grandmother left school to raise her children.

Liverpool woman who left school decades ago to have her daughter now getting diploma with daughter's daughter

Darlene Roy (left) and Ataya Keans graduate on the same day from the Queens Adult High School. (Jon Tattrie/CBC)

A Nova Scotia grandmother and granddaughter are graduating from high school on the same day this month, decades after the grandmother left school to raise her children.

Darlene Roy and her granddaughter, Ataya Keans, have worked closely together at the Queens Adult High School in Liverpool, N.S., for the last three years, helping each other study and get the work done.

Asked who proved to be the better student, both women point at the other.

"She's the better one," Keans says.

"You think? I don't know," her grandmother counters. "We're good together."

"Yeah. I think we're side by side," her granddaughter agrees.

Picking up education 42 years later

Roy had to leave school decades ago at 16 when she became pregnant with Keans's mother. She and her husband raised two children and put thoughts of a high school diploma behind them.

The school draws students from a wide range of ages. (CBC)

But a few years ago, Keans decided to finish her diploma while raising her own son. She inspired Roy to enrol herself.

"I just liked it here. I liked the people and I knew if I would have left, I think 'Taya wouldn't have finished, wouldn't have kept coming every day," Roy says.

Keans says her grandmother inspired her to study hard. "She was always there by my side, always helped me through everything."

On June 27, the women will graduate the same way they studied: side by side.

'Just go and try'

Keans's son will complete Grade 2 this month and Roy is busy homeschooling another grandson. They say education has become the family way.

"It feels good to know that 'Taya has her Grade 12. It makes me feel proud," Roy says.

The grandmother-granddaughter team worked so closely people thought they were mother and daughter. (CBC)

They credit the Queens Adult High School with creating a friendly, welcoming place to study. It brings together a mix of ages and experiences, and they say everyone feels encouraged to get their diploma.

"Just go and try. You can do anything if you want to do it," Keans says. "Especially if you have a son, you want an education, you want to go get a decent job. Nowadays, you need your Grade 12 for anything. Anybody can do it."

Roy always dreamed of earning her diploma and is celebrating the accomplishment.

"It means a lot to me. I always wanted it, and I worked for it — I worked hard for it — and I got it. It means the world to me. It's everything I ever wanted," she says. "I did it for Ataya, but I [also] did it for me. I went through with it and I'm proud of myself. Now, I don't want to leave! I want to stay here."

Both women are thinking about going to community college next.

Both women say the school welcomed them and encouraged them to complete their diplomas. (CBC)

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