This was the first time I've gone to graduation. I teach all four grades at the school so I've had students graduate before, but it's usually been one or two, and most of them in the past have chosen not to walk for one reason or another. This class, on the other hand...
This goes out to the young woman who hadn't been coming to class, and hiding in the back when she did. One day she was struggling with her notebook, writing with her off hand. It turned out she'd hit a wall because she didn't want to get suspended, and someone made her so mad she had to hit something. Her hand was bloody and crooked. I sent her to the nurse, and when she returned the next day, hand in a cast, I moved her next to a student who was there every day, took good notes, but was having occasional problems 'getting it'. He took her notes, she explained the knotty bits to him.
This goes out to the young woman who said, "I can't do this! I'm not learning anything!" When I asked her "What's Deoxyribonucleic Acid?" Her immediate response? "Oh, that's DNA, genetic material, how you get stuff from your parents."
This goes out to the young man who didn't pass his HSPAs (state graduation tests) on the first try, or the second, or the third. He's old enough he could have signed himself out, but he refused to quit. He. Kept. Coming. Back. Every Day. Hammering away at it until he passed it.
This goes out to the young lady too shy to talk in public, even when talking would pay her college bills and not talking nearly got her suspended. What she can't say in words, she says in images to make angels weep. It also goes out to the young man who makes her smile... and stand up straight and tall and even talk in public now and then.
This goes out to the young man who, when I lost the flash drive with all my grades on, brought me a perfectly functional one he'd found lying on the street. It wasn't mine, and I told him that, but he gave it to me anyway, because I needed one to keep my grades on.
This goes out to the young woman who still hates me for pushing her. She said she was going to quit school and have kids. She managed to keep up with some of my best, most hardworking students, and did it all in a language she wasn't proficient in.
This goes out to the young man who kept his campaign for office clean, even when some students vandalized his posters with slurs about his sexual orientation. It does get better.
This goes out to the young man who came to me, confused at receiving an 'F' for the first marking period. I told him he'd missed too many days to pass for the year, but I would let him make them up during his lunch. I saw him every lunch from then until the end of the year. I still remember what he said to me in May. "You're like a nightmare. You never go away, you're always here!"
To the young lady who can't stop laughing. Ever. No matter how much she ought to.
To the young man who didn't have enough English to write the answers to the questions, but by god he could draw them.
To the young man who made sure my students had pizza at the end of the year.
To the young lady who took a year off to have her daughter... but came back and finished.
Speaking of coming back, remember the young woman with the hand and the young man with the notes? They went missing on the last day of school 2010, and when I hunted them down they were in one of the labs with a small group of students, watching YouTube videos. When I asked them why they weren't watching the movie I was showing, she looked at me, looked at her friends, and said "Mr. Roman, you're looking at the best seven students of the class of 2012."
All seven graduated today. Four top 20 students, two class officers, and one entrepreneur. Good work, guys. Damn good work.
I'm proud of you. All of you.
This goes out to the Woodrow Wilson High School graduating class of 2012.
A quick note - I know last month I named names and posted pictures, but those were pictures of adults doing what adults do at a public convention. While a fair number of the graduates are no longer minors, and the fact that they're now graduates mean I can give them a lift to job and college interviews, (laws and policies are funny things) between the minors in the crowd and the fact that it was a students, staff, and family only event, I hope you're all okay with the lack of names and pictures this month.
Robert C Roman is an author of Steam Punk, Paranormal Romance, and Urban Fantasy, as well as other things which shall remain secret until revealed. In his copious free time (not) he can be found noodling about on Facebook, Twitter, or at his website.