More Cowbell: Augusta Adult and Community Education Celebrates Students’ HiSET Completion

student ringing cowbell

The sound of the cowbell that rings through the halls of Augusta Adult and Community Education (AACE) sends a burst of excitement and a rush of relief through the air along with its music. Here, the cowbell signals another life that has been changed by education.

In fall of 2021, the school’s administrative assistant, Heidi Lynch, wished there was a bell that students could ring when they had completed their HiSET testing. Completing the HiSET and getting a diploma is a huge accomplishment that Director Monique Roy believes should be celebrated in the moment, so she began to look for a bell. Early on in her search, she stumbled across a cowbell, and laughed. However, what started as a chuckle quickly turned into something amazing as her colleagues and students supported the idea of the cowbell and the order was placed.

Now, as soon as students know that they have passed their HiSET, they get to ring the cowbell, letting out the physical rush of joy and relief that comes with completing their tests. “We’ve had students cry and hug teachers and we’ve had students who are just like…woohoo! The bell ringing is their moment,” Roy says. No matter the response, the bell ringing indicates a changed life and an important milestone – one that the team at AACE is happy to play a role in.

Roy and her team are constantly promoting high school completion. They encourage all adults without a high school diploma to complete the HiSET, talking about it wherever they go. They also attend partner programming to ensure they can provide opportunities for high school completion, and are willing to meet everyone where they are, whether they have started their completion journey or not.

As for the bell, the “ritual” as Roy calls it, is here to stay. When students start their programs, they are shown videos of other graduates ringing the bell as a motivator. Roy says that for some, ringing the bell is a goal they look forward to throughout the entirety of their program. This ritual has certainly made a positive impact in the AACE, and the team is excited to see how many other students they can help get their diploma.

To see AACE’s students ringing the cowbell, watch this video.

This article was written by Maine DOE intern Alexa Bryant as part of the Maine DOE’s Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign and the 2022 #HiSET4ME Campaign.