Uproarious applause and airborne roses greeted graduates receiving their GEDs in McCaskey East's auditorium Tuesday night.
More than 75 students received their high school equivalency degrees as part of the Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13 Adult Basic and Family Literacy Education GED Ceremony.
Many students, such as Sara Gonzales, persevered over a long journey to finally get a diploma.
Gonzales, 28, left school in seventh grade and went back to school in 2009 after having her fourth child.
After working many warehouse jobs, Gonzales said she realized "life isn't going to be easy unless I put my education first."
Tuesday night, she was recognized for her "outstanding dedication" in GED studies.
"I feel like a kid again," Gonzales said after turning her tassel. "I'm so glad I participated in the graduation; it means so much to me."
Instructors, like Barbara Tyndall, played a big role in the students' success, Gonzales said.
Alejandro Arroyo also was recognized for outstanding achievement.
Arroyo said education became vital to him after an early life spent dealing with drugs and alcohol, and he completed his GED and a construction course at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology with a 96 percent average.
"Some of you took the long road to get here tonight," said Adult Education Supervisor Trish Link. "Some of your roads had bumps and potholes, but you made it."
Graduates from 14 learning centers walked across the stage, some dancing, some shedding tears.
"It feels great - it's a great experience," said 31-year-old Maria Bermudez, who said she gave her mother a "nice birthday gift" by graduating.
While raising three children of her own and a nephew, Bermudez worked full time at KFC as a shift manager to go to school part time for her GED.
She said she hopes to work in the medical field after attending the Career & Technology Center.
Gonzales also hopes to enter the medical field as a registered nurse and wants to give back to her community.
"I have to help my community and support them," she said.
Adult Education Director Tim Shenk said the state budget impasse at the beginning of this year "provided significant hurdles."
Shenk said night classes had to be canceled for the entire fall semester and even though they didn't start again until January, "The students stuck with it, so kudos to them."