Sunday, May 29, 2005
Putting The Fabulous in Ghetto Fabulous
Graduation was both sublime and ridiculous.
There was much dancing across the stage and air horn blowing. There were, in the words of a teacher friend, "a lot of tube tops out there". One student approached a friend and I to shake our hands and tell us, "I don't even know how I am here. I'm pretty sure I can't even read.". I asked him to keep that on the DL and quietly checked his breath.
But then some moments were magical and affirming. The march around the arena was very emotional. It's a rush to lead these kids out and to see graduation up close from their perspective. Cameras flash, and you see the tears of parents up close. As my group of kids entered the arena, I warned that one of the big moments in their lives was coming and to slow down and take it in. We made the march and as I turned to smile at them as we went down the stairs into the arena, a girl I had had in class hugged me and told me she was the first in her family to graduate. I was shocked at this seemingly middle class girl and told her how proud I was and how much better her choices will make life for her and her future family.
Stories like this almost justified the air horns and tube tops. It reminded me that a HS diploma isn't a given for everyone and that sometimes the gift we give is larger than we assume. We need graduation images to carry us through the long last week of school. I think those images fuel me through summer training sessions to believe in the worth of the work I do.