I was asked by the editor of the school newsletter where I served for four years to address a letter to the graduating seniors. Most of the students will be graduating with an associate degree and a high school diploma the same semester. All have earned a significant number of college hours toward their chosen degree while enrolled at the Early College High School. Here is what I shared with them in the letter:

Seniors,

Wow, four years seems to have flown by. I cannot believe you are graduating already. It seems like yesterday that I was sitting across a table at your middle school interviewing you to attend this new high school. I thought you were very brave at the time. I know you are brave now. I want you all to know how very proud of you I am. You are some of the most amazing students I have worked with in my 30 years in education. As you prepare to graduate, I hope that each of you leaves high school with a better understanding of mathematics, science, social studies, English, Spanish and all the other academic courses you took while at the Early College High School, but it is more important to me that that you have learned the following skills during your four years at IMPACT:

•    I hope that each of you understands that there are going to be times you will be afraid, but that fear should not keep you from trying new things, and striving toward lofty goals. Everyone is afraid from time to time, but those who are successful in their chosen fields push past the fear and do not let the fear define them.

•    I hope you know by now that you will be judged based on the impression you give others in the four year college or University you attend and in the working world more than you will be judged based on your GPA. Always look people in the eye when speaking or listening, have a firm handshake, dress nice, keep your word, show up early, offer assistance, and say please and thank you.

•    I hope you leave able to advocate for yourself in a positive, respectful manner. It is my desire that you know by now not to settle for less than you deserve, without burning bridges.

•    I hope that you have learned that the skills you are learning in high school and college classes can and will go with you for the rest of your life. Use and apply what you have learned about procrastination, preparation, working with others, asking questions, and organization because those skills will set you apart from the rest.

•    I hope that you have learned the importance of service to others. I will count my years with you as a success if I hear that you have continued to help those in need and are serving your chosen community.

•    Finally, I hope that you have learned that you should never stop learning.

As you all prepare to leave IMPACT, I want each of you to know that you really have created an impact in my life and I would venture to say in the lives of the teachers and college instructors who had the privilege to work with you. Thank you for embarking on this journey with me. I will be watching to see where the journey leads you.

Love and Best Wishes,

Mrs. Smithson

 

These students are going on to great things. They have been accepted into Bryn Mawr College, Auburn University, Antioch College, The University of Texas, Texas A&M, University of Houston, Lamar, Univerity of Texas at Tyler, Texas State University and Louisiana State University just to name a few. Two of them are going into military service. They are going to be doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, and business professionals along with professions I have never even heard of before. They participate in their churches, civic organizations, and things like break dancing, acting, singing, and playing the accordion. Most, but not all, are the first in their family to graduate from college. Many learned English in school. One student has been awarded a Gates Millineum Scholarship, one a Posse Scholarship, one graduated with the highest GPA at the community college of all students, young and old.

When you think ” the world is going to Hell in a hand basket”, remember that these kids still exist in your community as well as mine. It is up to us to support those students, encourage them, and allow them the opportunity to succeed.

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I hope you have a wonderful week,

Blessings,

Karen

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