It's better to try and fail than never to try at all, graduates from the Provo School District's Adult High School were told during graduation ceremonies Tuesday night.

"Problems are guidelines, not stop signs," Maria Fernandez told fellow graduates, three of whom finished studies while serving time in the Utah County Jail.Thirty-four adults received diplomas for completing Adult High School graduation requirements, while 20 students graduated from the Center for High School Studies, a program that allows students to finish their high school studies on the college level.

In addition, 27 students graduated from the district's six-month office-competency program, during the ceremonies on Utah Valley Community College's Provo campus.

Fernandez, who graduated from the office-competency program, said that proving herself had lifted her self-esteem.

"I'm really glad I made it six months," she said. "I never thought I could."

Bill Brundage, who returned to school to earn his high school diploma, said he dropped out of high school several years ago when he was 16. He said having a son in high school persuaded him to return and graduate.

Brundage thanked Provo Adult High School faculty and staff, who also received praise from Jeraldene Swalberg, school district director of high school completion. She also praised graduates for their tenacity and challenged them to continue learning.

"As long as we continue to grow, we continue to progress," she said.

Mossi White, Provo School Board member, urged students to view their graduation as a beginning, not an end. She said students should continue to learn the rest of their lives and should view obstacles as future challenges to overcome.

"For you and for me, doors are wide open" to endless opportunities of continued learning and growth. She encouraged students to view every day as a gift to learn more about the world around them.

White told students that the knowledge they have gained will mean little if they don't share with others what they have learned. Knowledge is put to its best use when it benefits other people, she said.

White said she feels everyone will be held accountable someday for what they did with their opportunities, lives and knowledge.

"Pat yourself on the shoulder," she said in congratulating graduates. "Revel in the joy of having succeeded and feel very, very good about yourself."

David E. Jones, a graduate from the Center for High School Studies, offered the opening prayer. Ronald E. Riding presented diplomas, and Lee Ann Boyer and Joyce Fife handed out certificates of office competency.