Thursday, May 23, 2013
An unexpected week in Dayton allowed us to attend my nephew’s graduation from Belmont High School. I’ve never been to a graduation with so many standing ovations, so many tears and cheers, so many family members sighing that collective sigh of, “We made it, they did it, they’re walking across that stage, and we don’t have to look back.”
My own graduations have been very subdued, restrained almost. Of course, there was joy, but it wasn’t the waving, jumping up and down, hooting and hollering joy of a graduation from a school with a 46% graduation rate.
When the superintendent stood up to speak and said, “Parents, siblings, family members, are you happy?!”, we were so happy, so proud of our children who had beat the odds and received their diploma.
As I look forward to the next year, teaching high school biology for Chicago Public Schools (I just have to pass my tests!), I think about the odds my own students will be facing. I know saying it’s going to be a challenge is an understatement. In those challenging times, I hope I can remember the pride I felt as my nephew received his diploma after years of struggle and hard work. It’s going to require lots of struggle and hard work to get my students to the place where their parents can sigh that collective sigh of, “We made it, they did it, they’re walking across that stage, and we don’t have to look back.”