In late December, amidst the holiday programs and parties, our kids gathered in the Spiritual Life Center chapel for a special ceremony: Bailey’s* high school graduation.
Being the lone December Gerber School graduate, Bailey was a little uncomfortable with all of the attention but as she entered the chapel to Pomp and Circumstance, her classmates stood and cheered. And when it was time for her to go up and receive her diploma, they encouraged her by chanting her name.
One of our special graduation traditions is having our teachers speak about their students. An excerpt from Miss Williams’ speech about Bailey’s journey follows:
Part of me wants to say, I can’t believe we’re here today, but that’s not because I ever doubted we would be. It just is baffling to me how quickly we seem to have made it to this point. I remember your first day with us – making a new daily schedule for you and getting you into our routine and your new normal. Since that day, I’ve watched you go from being overwhelmed just by switching classes to grow into a lady who navigates the bus system and managed to persevere all the way through and get to and from school this year. Oh how much you’ve grown!
You are an exceptional young lady, Bailey. You have a heart to encourage others with a unique ability to see when anyone may be feeling down. The love you give to others around you is a quality that I envy and wish I could bottle up for students and myself to come down the road.
This walk wasn’t always easy, and it will continue to have twists and turns. But if you remember what you’ve learned about yourself and about life, you continue to take it one day at a time, and you never let the world dim your sparkle, I have all the confidence that you’ll continue to grow into a loving, successful, and beautiful soul as you age.
Like most young people, our youth like Bailey, thrive on encouragement from others. If you would like to send words of encouragement to our youth as we start a new year, please do so here. Our kids would love to hear from you!
Bailey will soon begin a program through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) which will allow her to gain work experience in paid internships and she will get 1-on-1 attention from staff to develop her work readiness skills. The overall goal of the program is to help Bailey find stable, competitive employment.
*Our stories are real but names are changed to protect the privacy of our youth.