My Son’s High School Graduation Is a Huge Deal; He Almost Didn’t Make It

About a year ago when I opened my son’s report card after it arrived in the mail, I felt like I could breathe normally again. He passed junior year by the skin of his teeth. Even he was surprised when I read the sentence his advisor wrote underneath his GPA, “You have passed your Junior Year, and are now a senior.”

After seeing how big his eyes got and the flushed areas of his face and neck, I realized he had thought he wasn’t going to pass and he’d have to go to summer school or repeat his junior year while all of his friends moved on.

graduate backlit
Our son almost failed out of high school so his graduation is a big deal. (@lovinpurple via Twenty20)

My son was so relieved to have passed his junior year of high school

He was wearing the same expression he wore the first time he fell off his bike then got up and realized he was okay. The sound of his voice had the same tone it did after he watched a fox clench one of our chickens in his mouth, then drop her to the ground when we sent our dog out after it.

Elementary school was a breeze for him. He genuinely enjoyed going to school and there were no issues with him handing in his work. He was always open and willing to learn and seemed engaged in class. His teachers loved him and how boisterous he was.

Something happened at the end of sixth grade though. First went all the sports and extra activities he used to love. Then, his friend group changed. I watched closely as my son became withdrawn and I started getting calls he wasn’t handing in work.

During his eighth grade year, he got a few in-house suspensions for fighting. Freshman year was the same.

I visited his school more times than I’d like to admit during his Sophomore year because not only was he not getting his work done, he was fooling around in class, still fighting, and getting caught smoking weed before school in the woods.

I asked our high school superintendent to give my son a scare

He was almost expelled that year and I asked the superintendent if he would sit down with us, and give my son a little bit of a scare. He did and I will forever be grateful. I knew my son was so close to getting kicked out of school that year, I had no idea what else to do.

While he calmed down a lot during his junior year, I could see he thought homework was pointless. He didn’t try in any of his classes and when COVID hit, I was so worried he was going to fall through the cracks it kept me up at night.

Now, as we reach the last few weeks of his senior year and he’s gone from failing almost every class the year before, to being a wonderfully average student. I am beyond thankful he got here.

There were so many times I didn’t know if he was going to. Not because I didn’t believe in him and think he could do it but because he plain just doesn’t think school was important. And he didn’t realize how much it would affect his life if he didn’t graduate.

When we celebrate him in a few weeks it won’t feel like a typical graduation party. Well, not to me anyway. This was a struggle for him. I know he didn’t want to do it. I know he doesn’t like school.

He did it anyway.

Graduating high school was an uphill battle

It’s easy to forget, as we watch these kids line up and accept their diplomas, that this is an uphill battle for many of them. They don’t always have the support they need. They struggle with learning abilities, anxiety, depression, and the feeling of never measuring up.

For many students, getting to high school graduation is in no way smooth sailing.

I don’t know what the future holds for my son. But I know that because he was able to do this; this thing which was incredibly difficult for him; this thing that seems routine to others, he has learned that he can tackle and accomplish hard things.

I think that lesson is priceless.

The author of this post wishes to remain anonymous.
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About Grown and Flown

Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa (Endlich) Heffernan are the co-founders of Grown and Flown the #1 site for parents of teens, college students and young adults, reaching millions of parents every month. They are writers (Lisa is a New York Times bestselling author), moms, wives and friends. They started the Grown and Flown Parents Facebook Group and are co-authors of Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults (Flatiron Books) now in paperback.

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