Central Standard

Sunday, March 01, 2015 - 22°F

Your stories about high school graduation

In Chicago, one out of every six students will not complete their high school education or receive a traditional diploma. Today, more than ever, a high school diploma is a pivotal step towards gainful employment and a better life. Twenty or thirty years ago, a high school dropout may still have had a chance to acquire a living wage and decent employment. Industry changes, the technological evolution, and employer expectations have transformed the workforce landscape dramatically. Failing to complete a high school education, puts thousands of young people at a great disadvantage each year and creates serious concerns for our community.

What keeps young people in school? And, what influences them to leave school? What inspires people to value education? And, why are some left uninspired?

We wanted to hear from adults who faced the challenges of staying in school, to provide a greater understanding of how they were able to realize their potential, or not. Partnering with the Neighborhood Writing Alliance we asked writers to submit their stories of high school graduation. Writers from a diverse mix of neighborhoods throughout Chicago organized their thoughts and reflections into written compositions. Some shared stories of inspiration, empowerment, and perseverance. Others told stories of struggles and regret. The original authors of select compositions visited WTTW studios to create the following videos.

We hope they will inspire you to share your story.

Video Stories

"Don't Label Me"
by Barbara Banks

Writer Banks is 67 and retired. She is a graduate of Wendell Phillips High School, Class of ’67. Play >

“Decision Time – Future Secured!”
by Baba Tony Brown

A storyteller and workshop facilitator, 57 year-old Brown has three grown children and is the grandfather of four. He is a graduate of Orr High School, class of ’72. Play >

“I Say Stay”
by D. Kucha Brownlee

A retired Police Officer and currently an instructor for an After School Matters program, 61 year-old Brownlee is the proud parent of a college student. She is a graduate of Providence Saint Mel’s High School, class of ’69. Play >

“Grateful for a High School Education”
by Emmoretta Jones

46 year old Jones is a college admissions representative and mother of three. She is a proud graduate of Piney Woods Country Life High School, a boarding school in Mississippi, class of ’83. Play >

“Never, Never Good Enough”
by D. L. Minor

Writer Minor is 54. She successfully completed her GED in 1977. Play >

“Phoenix Rising”
by Donna Pecore

Educator, mother of three, and grandmother of two, 57-year-old Pecore successfully completed her GED in 1974. Play >

The Neighborhood Writing Alliance, publishers of the Journal of Ordinary Thought, is a nonprofit organization that offers aspiring adult writers an opportunity to attend writer’s workshops at neighborhood branches of the Chicago Public Library, community centers, and social service agencies. Writers are exposed to different forms of written expression and encouraged to submit their work for the NWA’s periodic publication.

Tell us YOUR STORY about graduation!

Share your thoughts on high school graduation and it may be posted here. Tell us your feelings about graduating, planning to graduate, dropping out, or returning to school for your diploma.

Here are some inspirations to consider.

  • What does being an American Graduate mean to you?
  • What struggles did you overcome to reach high school graduation?
  • Have you returned to school after dropping out? If so, who or what inspired your return?
  • What are you doing to inspire the young people in your life to graduate from high school?

Please complete the following online form and provide permission for your comments to be posted. Submissions must be 100 words or less.

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