Last night was the culmination of all of the hard work for the Class of 2012. It was my honor and privilege to be able to give out diplomas to the almost 300 graduates. As I gave the diplomas, the photographer took our pictures. Over the last two years, I have been able to get to know some of the students. That has been awesome for me as the day-to-day dealings with kids is the one part of my job that I truly miss. And I was able to give diplomas to a few students whose grandmothers have been my friends since high school. That was special to me.
The students were excited and rightly so. But the one thing that stood out to me is the respect that Douglas students have. So many of them said "thank you" to me as I gave them their diploma. I even got hugs.
Of course there were touching moments, too. Two young men who graduated are in wheelchairs. As they came across the stage to get their diplomas, the entire senior class stood and cheered for both of them. It was hard to hold back the tears. And I love this picture that was in the local newspaper!
This has been a difficult week because some of our students weren't able to graduate because of AIMS (state tests). I absolutely believe that we put way too much emphasis on testing and we are getting away from creativity and deep thinking because of this. Despite my feelings on this, I still have to follow state and federal guidelines. Students have five opportunities to take the tests. The final one happens in April and we had many students who had to pass one or two of the tests still. We didn't get the results until last week. The students and parents have been informed of this possibility from freshman year on. There are still opportunities to graduate if a student doesn't pass, but there are many factors that have to go into this. It is called augmentation and the state gives us the guidelines. When we got the tests back, several students had still not passed the AIMS math. I think back to my math experience in school and I could have been one of those students. However, many of them met all of the requirements for augmentation---grades in core classes, attending intervention classes and tutoring, etc. These students got points for this and had enough to graduate.
Unfortunately about 14 students didn't make augmentation. Last year we only had five. Several of the parents met with me and I had to take a firm stand as our Board Policy states that in order to walk a student must fulfill all requirements. There was one family who could not accept this answer. On Thursday, one of the television stations from Tucson came down to do an interview. It wasn't aired until last night at 6:00. I was very worried about the slant it would take because I have dealt with reporters for many years. My former superintendent always says that the media doesn't let the truth get in the way of a good story and I have experienced that many times. This time it was very fair I believe. However, it was nerve wracking waiting to see how the spin would be. I was so relieved!!! I don't ordinarily write about any of the negative parts of my job, but this particular event became a media event.
So after these events this week, standing for two hours passing out diplomas and getting my picture taken with almost 300 kiddos, I am very tired today. But it is a good tired!!! Glad we have two more days off recuperate and regroup!!
All and all it was a wonderful night and I was so proud to be able to be a part of this ceremony.
ONCE A BULLDOG, ALWAYS A BULLDOG!!!!!!!!!!