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Flowers: May showcases student achievements

May is an exciting time for educators, and not just because they look forward to some time off! It is exciting because it is the month with all of the culminating events that showcase the accomplishments of our amazing students. Awards ceremonies feature students earning thousands of dollars in scholarships, recognition by the National Honor Society, and of course, commencement. These ceremonies mark a significant milestone, and a transition from one stage of a young person's life to another. Though many students don't fully realize what a significant step commencement represents, it's an emotional time for many parents. Parents know that a portion of their young adult's life is accomplished. They have been dedicated to providing students with shelter, support, encouragement, sustenance—they have provided them with roots. Now they have realized that the time is here to gradually cease some of the above, but in addition, to let go, to push a little—to give them wings.

When we attend commencement, we see large classes of 250-350 students cross the stage from each of our two high schools, plus those that graduate from Community High and the Transition Academy. Each young person that crosses the stage is a story of a life unfolding, of struggles, of trip-ups as well as triumphs over adversity, and even trauma in their lives.

Some readers may know that I make kaleidoscopes in my woodshop. It is at commencement time that the kaleidoscope works well as a metaphor to describe what we have done together as partners for each individual that crosses a stage at commencement. I make kaleidoscopes with a three-mirror system. The object chamber is filled with individual bits of broken and imperfect glass, and beads—no two alike—such as our students. The three mirrors are like the partnership among parents, educators and the community. Alone, each single mirror just gives a reflection; alone, a single mirror transforms nothing. But if you align them together effectively, and focus them with purpose on the object chamber, the effect is transformative, powerful and awe-inspiring. We help each child become more than they may have dreamed to be. In such a kaleidoscope, the whole visual field, though made up of remarkable and diverse individual pieces, becomes an amazing reflection of unity and symmetry. Turn the object chamber a bit, and the same individual pieces are transformed into a whole different possibility. The potential of our collective graduates is also one of endless unfolding possibility.

That's what I see this time of year when I look into the faces of our graduates as they cross the stage, and as I gaze out over the entire collected mass of potential. When I look at the entire assembly, I see the three mirrors: I see parents and relatives in the stands; I see community members who are partners; I see wonderful educators—and I see the target of our collaboration--the wonderful product we have created through the focused alignment of our efforts. Schools can't do it alone, parents can't do it alone. Our graduates are at this point because of their own efforts and resilience, but also because of the combined efforts of parents, community and educators, from preschool to grade 12. Our children are a reflection of us as parents, community and educators. Together we have the power to transform, and each May we get to see that beautiful image unfold before our eyes at graduation.