THIRTY FIVE graduating teen parents in YoungLives walked at five of the schools’ graduation ceremonies over the last few weeks in Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, and Santa Ana.
I had the opportunity to attend Lorin Griset and Valley Vista’s graduation ceremonies, and there’s something just so special about continuation schools’ graduations. You know it was hard for these kids, to first care about a high school diploma, then to care about the week-to-week assignments, to take attendance seriously, to try and stay out of trouble; the students didn’t ever imagine they would transfer to a continuation school, and here they were graduating from one, completely changed. The student speakers were full of gratitude for the teachers and staff who actually cared about them enough to keep pushing them.
To just say that the 35 teen moms and dads “made it” is an understatement. They fought for it, they earned it, and I do believe they changed generations because of it. They changed the way that they will lead their family, the way their children will see education as an opportunity, and how they will achieve goals in the future. They had a million other responsibilities pulling them in different directions and had to focus in on a goal, and they finished that goal!!
Watching them walk across the stage with confidence was such a proud moment for me, sending chills running through my body and my eyes welling up with tears, I then imagined how much greater their families were feeling for their sons or daughters. I looked around and saw whole families cheering and crying, siblings holding up signs, grandparents nodding their heads with affirmation, and through the crowd I was able to spot some of their babies and toddlers.
After walking across the stage and receiving their diploma, I asked the moms “How did it feel?” A common answer was that it feels surreal and they couldn’t have done it without the support of many, and that they did it for their son or daughter. And I found myself all emotional again because OF COURSE THEY DID! They finished high school for the benefit of their child’s future. They don’t want to be just another statistic. They constantly tell me they want to give their children an even better life than they had growing up, and the determination, strength, perseverance, and COURAGE that comes with that, is unstoppable.
We are beyond proud of all our graduates this year who we have gotten the opportunity to know through YoungLives, would you join us in praying for them as the next chapter in their lives unfold, and new obstacles come their way? To Graduation and Beyond!
Sarah Spillman, Costa Mesa YoungLives Coordinator