"Graduation: Non-Grad Blues"


Monday morning in the land of academia. The last Monday of the school year. I’m sitting in my office going through my hundred and twenty five graduation cards again, double checking my entries in the event that I may have made an error or missed something. At this time of the year the most important part of my job is to make sure that as many of my seniors as possible are cleared for graduate. I’d love to see them all graduate but in fourteen years that’s never happened. I’ve had a high of fifteen not graduate one year and a low of four non-grads another year.  As of 9AM I have thirteen non-grads. By 10 AM I’d added one more.

Fourteen non-grads, students who will not be taking part in the graduation ceremonies Thursday evening or receive their diplomas. Actually three of the students will  be allowed to take part in the ceremonies but will be receiving a Certificate of Completion instead of a diploma. These students have earned the necessary credits and met all state graduation requirements except one, passage of one or both parts of the states high school exit exam. Once they pass the exam they can receive their diplomas. The other eleven students are not graduating because they are behind in credits or failed classes they needed to pass this semester. It’s sad really, four of the students are seriously behind in credits and need at least another year of school. Two need summer school and at least one more semester to meet the requirements.They’ve known they weren’t graduating all along. Four students failed two classes and are only ten credits short. They will receive their diploma after attending both sessions of summer school. And one student failed two classes and fell 2.5 credits short of graduating. He’ll receive his diploma after session one of summer school.

Some of these kids deserve to not graduate. They put in nearly zero effort and could have cared less, but a few of these kids went down fighting. They worked their tails off and simply fell short. One student started the year needing 100 credits. He ended up with 90. These kids hung in there and gave it their best shot. A few blew it in the last triad or in the final exam.  It’s those kids I feel bad about. I know I did all I could for them, I can only do so much. I guess I empathize with them because I nearly didn’t graduate myself.

I  found out two weeks before graduation that I wasn’t going to walk. I had totally blown my zero period class, my absences alone earned me an ‘F’.  For two weeks my mom put me through a living hell, needless to say she not not happy that I wasn’t graduating. Long story short, she took my car away and threw me out of the house. It was bad, real bad. Then on graduation day three hours before the ceremony, my teacher had a change of heart and passed me! It was a miracle! Mr. Harbo was one of the toughest teachers on campus. No one could believe my good fortune. I was able to walk with my class and receive my diploma!  Yeah, it was a stressful couple of weeks. I don’t wish that stress on anyone. I do all I can to keep my seniors from going through what I did, but like I said I can only do so much, the rest is up to them.

The remainder of the morning I made the worst kind of phone calls. Calls notifying parents that their worst fears had been realized, calls confirming their son or daughters non-grad status. I dread making those calls, it’s never easy hearing the disappointment in a parents voice. Even though they knew there was a chance their kid might not make it, they cling to the hope that maybe, just maybe they will  pull it out. I get to be the one to tell them they didn’t. It’s just another part of my job, a part I could do without…

Congratulations Class of 2011!!                        “Once an Aztec, always an Aztec”


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