So the other day, my nephew graduated from Flint Hills Technical College. I was only planning on paying attention as he walked across because I didn't think I knew anyone else who was receiving that honor. But as we were waiting for the ceremony to begin, I skimmed through the program. At the bottom of the third page was a name I recognized, but never would have expected to see there.
And my heart just swelled.
Cory was a student of mine several years ago. He was a great kid, but came to us with a whole host of disadvantages. He was one of those that I wish I could have taken home and just given another chance.
I always feel so proud of my kids when they have accomplished something amazing like that. I never know how some of them are going to feel about it, so I try not to make too big of a deal about it, but when I got home, I sat down and wrote Cory a note. Just a short congratulations to let him know his accomplishment had not gone unnoticed.
The next day, I had the opportunity to watch my seniors walk across the stage. Mary and Garrett are two kids that I have loved watching grow over the last few years and I am going to miss them terribly.
Mary is one of those students we wish we could duplicate. She is brilliant, organized, driven and she loves learning. As her track coach I threatened to put her in the 3200 m so she would get bored running in circles and discover the cure for cancer. There has never been any doubt that she wouldn't make it through high school and there is no doubt that she will make it through college and graduate school.
Garrett holds a special place in my heart as well. As a freshman, he was awkward and more than a little bit annoying. As a sophomore, he was still awkward, but slightly less annoying. He never made it out of the slightly annoying phase, but really grew into his own person. He is unique in a lot of ways and I really believe that one of these days, he will discover his calling and find his niche.
I have tried to write notes to each of them, tried to express how much I learned and benefited from having them move through my life. I still haven't found the right words for either of their cards.
Sometimes they just don't come out right.