Tag Archives: Staples High School Class of 2019

“My Daughter Does Not Wear A College Sweatshirt”

On May 1 — “Decision Day” — many Staples High seniors wore college sweatshirts to school. Brown, UConn, Michigan, Elon, Middlebury, NYU … everyone, it seemed, wanted to share with everyone else the place where they’ll (hopefully) spend the next 4 years.

Well, almost everyone.

A mother writes:

My daughter isn’t wearing a sweatshirt for a university — because she isn’t going to one.

Her decision day happened a year or so ago. Through a lot of tears, she told me she wasn’t ready to go to college. And she knew that in a year she wasn’t going to be ready either.

Since then I’ve talked to friends, relatives and strangers. I’ve had to let them know that my daughter wasn’t headed toward a stripper pole, just because she wasn’t going directly to college. 

My daughter has no idea what she wants to do. She’s 18. She has no children to feed, or debt to humanity to repay before her clock runs out.

The rush to the finish line is not one I’ve put before her. I don’t know if one even exists.

As she watches her friends and classmates go off into their lives at schools across the country, she remains resolute in her decision that her time will come.

But it’s not now. I sometimes see a little sadness in her eyes. But since forever, she has known herself.

Friends sent me texts. They acted as if I were someone who didn’t know the options, and that it was my decision to keep her out of college. They threw out lifelines to try to save us, not realizing there’s a level of depth and thought behind my daughter’s decision.

At 16 she saw the tension and stress of her classmates. She saw the harried decisions to find a path that didn’t fit with her.

So she talked to me, and told me her truth.

We don’t know what’s to come. She wants to work, learn something more about the world, and figure out who she is right now. Her path may not end in a degree in 4 years. But it will be one of value and worth.

To all of our children — those who are going to college, to trade school, into the military, working, or staying home — please know that you are valued and strong.

Your worth is not your accomplishments in these short years you’ve been here.

There is much more to come.

As Graduation Nears, A Mother Reflects

The other day, Jerri Graham posted a heartfelt message on Facebook’s “Westport Front Porch” page.

“WFP” is a popular online community. But Jerri’s words deserve to reach far more people than those who are members of that group. I asked if I could repost her comments. Jerri graciously said yes.

She wrote:

This just came in the mail:

When I opened the envelope, tears flowed. My daughter will graduate from high school!

While it’s not a big deal for some, it means so much more to me.

We live in a town where we aren’t the norm. We are a minority on top of a minority on top of a minority. I’m a black woman raising a biracial daughter on an at-times stretched income of one.

I haven’t any family in sight. It has been just Cat and me for over a decade.

She’s been this solid child with a heart that is loving and giving. She’s never once complained when she’s had to go without.

Each week since she’s started working — whether at Sugar & Olives, the Y, babysitting or now at Westport Pizzeria — she gives me her pay. She knows that each dollar she gives makes up where her other parent failed her.

She’s been a great passenger in my sidecar during our life here in Westport.

Cat Graham

I came to this town to one day have this invitation in my hand. To raise a child in a clean environment, and where education matters.

I saw it in the faces of the kids around her who gobbled up chapter books, and inspired her to do the same.

I felt it in the parents who sat next to me year after year at school events when we didn’t always want to be there, but always were.

While I was forced to do it on my own, I do know that raising and educating my daughter here — where at least she had a good education, and friends — made it a lot easier.

I’m so proud of who she is, and who she will become. I’m thrilled that she knows herself well enough to forge her own path, regardless of what everyone else around her does.

Oh, the simple power of a card in the mail.

Congratulations, Staples High School Class of 2019!

And congratulations to two wonderful women: Jerri and Cat Graham!