Day #19 is a post that I have been wrestling with- to post or not to post, that is the question. I have decided to post it (obviously) but I ask that you not judge those mentioned here; they are forgiven. I just ask that you read and focus on the blessing of the “troops” support and how much that meant to us. Thank you.
As I mentioned before, my brother naturally thought he was next in line to do the things that I did, and that my sisters were going to do. He does not drive, although I never really think he wanted to; he enjoys being the passenger and sleeps like a baby after a few minutes of riding (a great quality in a passenger, but not a driver). One time, in a church parking lot, I let him sit in the driver’s seat and steer while I controlled the pedals. You should have seen the look on my mom’s face when she saw Brian “driving”! Brian wasn’t all that into it, but I thought it was awesome.
I digress…the point is there were many things that Brian didn’t do that we did, but graduating from high school was a given and he was probably the most excited senior there was. He looked forward to wearing his cap and gown and graduating with his peers. He had been with the class, of 1999, since 2nd grade.
When Brian was a freshmen my parents inquired if he would be able to participate in graduation ceremonies as a senior; they were told yes, that he could receive some sort of an attendance certificate (Note: Brian was in general education from 2nd-6th grade and then in middle school and high school he was in a self-contained classroom for those with cognitive impairments. He did not complete the general education coursework, but did complete the Senior High Level 4 program in special education; hence the attendance certificate). This sounded like a reasonable solution to my parents, so they operated for three years under that assumption. The May before Brian’s senior year my parents were told that he would not be able to participate in graduation.
My parents researched neighboring school districts and discovered that they allowed their students to participate in graduation at the end of their High School career and prior at attending a Young Adult program. They presented their findings and requested that Brian be allowed to “walk with his class”. My parents saw the graduation “rite of passage” as an appropriate ending for Brian’s high school career; and the Young Adult program would be a suitable “next step”. Their request was denied.
My parents then went higher up to express their dissatisfaction with the denial of their request:
“All we are asking is that Brian wear a cap and gown, walk across the stage and receive a certificate with his class. These are the kids with whom he’s played soccer, sung in the choir, performed in musicals, and been in classes with. He sees himself as a senior. To the best of his ability, he has come to school, attended classes and been a friend to all. There are many dreams that Brian has which will never come true, like playing football for Notre Dame, going to college, and having a family. This dream of participating in graduation with his class is one dream we can have come true for him. We can assure you that there would not be another senior to whom the graduation ceremony would mean more to than Brian. Thank you for your consideration in this manner.”
One of the students, whose parent was on the school board, caught wind of what was going on and she rallied the “troops” and started a petition to support my parent’s appeal for Brian to be allowed to walk at graduation. The response was overwhelming; 125 high school students signed the petition!
In February 1999 my parents wrote a letter of appreciation to the superintendent as their request had been listened to with sensitivity and a policy change was made so that Brian and future students in the Level 4 program could participate in graduation ceremonies with their class.
We were all very excited and relieved. What a testimony to the maturity of Brian’s peers and their love for him.
Brian likes the song, “Celebrate good times, come on!” And that is
what we all did at graduation in 1999! Watching him walk with his class, wear his cap and
gown, and smile from ear-to-ear was priceless.
Deep Breaths: We need each other. God has designed us to live in community; starting with our family. Are you building up or tearing down your community?
1 Thessalonians 5:11
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”