Recently, more than 80 Boys Town seniors walked across the stage to receive their diplomas, signifying the start of their journey from adolescence to adulthood. Though I have been a part of this ceremony many times during my tenure at Boys Town, it never ceases to fill me with pride and hope for the future.
You see, graduation is a rite of passage experienced by millions of teenagers across the nation every spring. And while it is justifiably celebrated with parties and gifts, it has become a routine and expected part of young adulthood. But for those 80 plus kids who just received their Boys Town diplomas, graduation was once far from a certainty. In fact, for most of them, it was nothing more than a dream – something that happens to other kids in nicer, safer zip codes.
Imagine waking up every morning not knowing where you were going to sleep that night. Imagine having to take care of your baby sister while your drug-addicted mother disappears for days at a time looking to score her next fix. Imagine seeing your childhood friends die one by one from stray bullets or drug overdoses or seeing them end up in prison for any number of violations. Now imagine all that while trying to make it to class every day in some school rife with drugs and gang activity.
It’s not too difficult to understand why many at-risk kids fail to make it through all four years of high school.
Which is why our graduates are so special.
So spare an extra thought for our Boys Town class of 2015. They’ve worked harder than most to get where they are today. And that hard work has prepared them well for the challenges they’ll face in the coming years, be they in higher education, the military or in the workforce.
As for us, the educators and mentors who helped them realize this achievement? We’ll celebrate too – for a minute or two – and then we’ll get right back to preparing the class of 2016 for their graduation.
Superintendent, Boys Town High School