For the past three years, I have attended the Woodland Park High School Awards Assembly each May.
In 2008, I attended because my son, Morgan, was a senior.
In 2009 and 2010, I attended because I was awarding his memorial scholarship to a graduating senior.
You see, Morgan died from bacterial meningitis 10 days after he graduated. He never went to college.
Morgan spent 5 years telling me he didn’t care about his grades, because he didn’t want to go to college. I wasn’t worried one whit about his intelligence, productivity or ability to contribute to society. But I did know his view and mine did not fit in with the culture we inhabited. I figured it was my job to make sure his current choices didn’t ruin his future opportunities – in short, I told him to try to find a way to work within the system even as he yearned to change it.
Now, each year, I sit for an hour or so, listening to what our country’s future leaders are told is important and what they are rewarded for.
I hear inspirational speeches from military representatives, knowing that those who join may not live long enough to take advantage of their earned educational benefits.
I listen to who did well at the Stock Market game – (I consider playing the Stock Market akin to playing penny slots, just more expensive, with less honesty and entertainment value…)
And then it’s my turn at the podium.
In the aftermath of higher education, making money and serving your community speeches, I get up and tell everyone who is willing to listen that I don’t care what your grade point average is.
I do care what your passions and talents are.
I don’t care if you spend the award money on tuition, books or a van to cart your drum set to the next gig in.
I do care if you have a dream that needs funds and there are no scholarships available for what you deem important.
I urge the graduating class to question the status quo, never give up on their dreams and break the rules even while attempting to follow them.
I inform the school, the community and a bunch of teenagers that I think their individuality, dreams and passions are more important than what their ACT score is.
I imagine there is widespread relief when I shut up and sit down.
I also think there are a few disappointed seniors, who did everything their teachers, parents, school counselors and society in general have told them ensures success – and I just informed them their transcripts, letters of recommendation and the need for eight years of education to do what they want to do, doesn’t cut any ice with me and won’t win them Morgan’s award.
To my mind, those kids have a wealth of resources available to compete for.
The girl who wants to visit Japan and write about it, doesn’t.
So today, when I watched the RSAnimate clip of Sir Ken Robinson’s lecture, “Changing Education Paradigms”, I was heartened. Someone else feels the same way. Given it’s popularity on the net, there are several someones out there.
And now I have a beautiful and entertaining way to share my thoughts with others, via his eloquence.
Thank Sir Robinson – you just made my year!
UPDATE* Spring 2015 – I’ve noticed an uptick in visits to this long ago published page, here recently, and I assume it’s because somehow, this little blog found it’s way into the search results for scholarship opportunities for seniors –
YES! I could research and find out, exactly, what the stats indicate is what –
NO – I’m not going to so research – quicker and easier to write an update for you-
Long story short, those who boldly committed to funding this scholarship in the their first 72 hours of grief disappeared after year one – I held on till a divorce and then stroke rendered me incapable of funding it myself – to those who received the scholarship, know I still pull out your entry letters and thank you notes, to read and remind myself of the difference my son made in the lives of others – 🙂
To those who came here, only to find this scholarship now defunct – I apologize – but know I’m still working on rebuilding a life that includes enough abundance to start funding this again – – cuz, I DO believe you need that camera, drum set or travel funds to that summer internship you worked so hard to snag…
Until that day arrives, sorry if this little link led you astray – but know, I applaud your creativity, passion and dedication to your craft – You Rock!