This year we have 2 High School graduates coming out of the Joshua Station youth program. I am reminded of this fact often as they have asked me to be a reference on a college application, write a letter of recommendation for a scholarship and answer questions about what life in college was like for me. One of these students will be the first in her family to graduate High School and the other will be only the second. That alone makes their accomplishments notable.
In a city where the graduation rate last year was 52% it can be hard to successfully get yourself to your graduation day. Many students simply give up, or drop out to help support the family. The young man who is graduating this year goes to West High School, which was cited in the Denver Post as “Among the worst 2010 performers” with a 47% graduation rate. When I talk to the kids at Joshua Station about schools in Denver, they often times have nothing but awful things to say about West. This young man mentioned to me, when we first moved to Joshua Station, that he wanted to transfer away to a better school. I had that conversation with him his Freshman year. It is an amazing site to see him graduating, 3 years later, from that High School which many folks have no hope for. He rose above the ashes of “poor performance” and is coming out victorious with a GPA above a 4.0, which I didn’t know was possible.
The young woman who is graduating this year goes to a school with a slightly better reputation; East High School. When we first met her, we realized quickly that she was very smart and very mature for her age. The only problem was that she lacked the motivation to apply herself in school. She would often tell Nicole that it was too difficult for her to try hard enough to get good grades. 3 years later, she too is graduating with much better than average grades and is planning to attend Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design. She is an incredibly gifted artist and will no doubt make quite the impression at RMCAD.
I am more proud of these two than I could convey to you through this simple blog. They have become leaders in their school, the youth program at Joshua Station as well as in their families. They have a lot to be proud of, and thank God, they have many people cheering them on from the sidelines to remind them of that.