Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Middle School Graduation

Kai's middle school graduation ceremony was yesterday.

Ahead of the ceremony, I was not overly excited about the occasion. After all, in this country, pretty much every child completes middle school. It's not like a college graduation which is the culmination of years of education, or even a high school graduation which is a significant rite of passage.

And so I was surprised by how emotional I got during the ceremony.

The principal of the school gave a great speech, reminding all of what an achievement this marked for the graduates of this school in particular. He talked about how people who face adversity turn out better for it in life, but that for the kids at this therapeutic school, they have faced greater challenges at a younger age than many do. He quoted Hemmingway from Farewell to Arms: "The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places."

Later in the ceremony, several of the students gave very touching speeches. A boy in Kai's class gave an especially moving speech, talking very openly about all of the trouble he had caused at the school, and how he had to go away to a residential school for a time, and then how he was able to turn around his life in the past year to the point where he was chosen to speak for the 8th graders. His remarks give hope that situations that seem so dire (to his parents, especially, I'm sure) were not hopeless. And that this school played a big part in helping to turn this boy's life around.

Kai had many challenging times in middle school as well, but when we step back we see that he is a very different boy than the one who started at middle school. As he walked down the aisle when the students made their entrance to the ceremony, he seemed calm and poised. And when he walked across the stage after he received his diploma, he raised turned toward the audience to move the tassel on his cap from right to left to indicate that he was a graduate. (Few others did that). And then he raised both arms briefly in triumph.

And so, this ceremony, from start to finish, was a reminder of the journey we have been on with our son, and of the progress he has made, and how he emerged through some rough times to emerge "strong at the broken places."

After the ceremony, we spoke with several staff and they were all effusive in their optimism that Kai is ready to go to his home high school.

Thanks to all of the staff who made such an impact on our son. Here are a couple in particular that we were instrumental with Kai:

Kai's primary teacher in 8th grade... Kai bonded very strongly with Mr. Howard who made a big impact on Kai:

Kai's classroom therapist for his three years at the middle school, Ms. Levin, who persisted through all the tough times:

And of course we were also very glad that Kai's grandparents could be there for this big occasion.

Later, we had a barbecue at home to celebrate with other family members who could not make the graduation ceremony.

And so marked a milestone that was indeed very special.



  1. How VERY wonderful! Congratulations to all of you...Kai, parents, teachers, and students! Those teachers...I don't know how they do it. Happy day! Onward and upward! :)

    1. Thanks, Betsy. And yes, very big thanks to the teachers who do so much for all of the kids. Onward, and hopefully upward. :)

  2. Kai is on his way. Just remind him that if he can make it through middle school, then high school is just another step forwards. Remember what brings success and continue it. Remember the falls and remember that you got success after picking yourself up, dusting yourself off, and continuing on. Life towards adulthood is now on the horizon. Set your sails, weather the storms, and keep true to your course...your destination will then be a foregone conclusion. Congratulations Kai...sail on.

    1. We hope that there will be fewer storms as he embarks upon high school, and that Kai will be better able to weather the ones that come his way. Thanks, Shiroi.


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