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Opinion: “Graduation: Stepping Into the Future”

Hillsides Education Center Holds Graduation Ceremony

Published on Friday, June 24, 2011 | 5:11 am

On June 21, Hillsides Education Center hosted its graduation ceremony. HEC is a small non-public school serving not only many of the Hillsides residents, but also students from the greater Pasadena area. This year four seniors graduated. A long standing custom at the graduation is to give graduates the opportunity to address the assembly and offer some reflection on this milestone. In describing his hopes beyond Hillsides, one graduate mentioned a quote worth spending some time considering. He said, “Those who are stuck in the past risk missing the future.” How true!

For all the students at HEC, they address not just their particular learning challenges, but a myriad of issues. For many, those challenges are only complicated by emotional and behavioral issues that are considerable. As much as these students achieve academically, they also see their other issues ameliorated, their confidence restored–so much that they can step away from the past into the future.

For all of these graduates, graduation is a moment when they come to a fork in the road and a direction must be taken. And as often is the case, they will never have this opportunity again. Hopefully, as they set out on the road they are less burdened, more assured and excited for the journey that lies ahead.

They reach this moment assisted by so many who care for them. Their families, who regardless of the challenges, hold in their hearts great hope for their children. Accompanying their families is the extraordinary staff from both HEC and Hillsides who together assist these students to be successful. It is very challenging work, but it is moments like graduation that are most gratifying when wecan see the sense of accomplishment on the faces of the graduates.

As always, this is also a moment to recognize the extraordinary support that small non-public schools and community-based family services like ours receive from the community to maintain our educational endeavors. With school districts historically constrained, our reimbursement is significantly less than what it costs to educate the students at HEC. Without community support, we would not be able to sustain HEC. Know that community members who support what we do play an  important role in making it possible for these students to be set free from the past and step out into the future.

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