are common threads to every graduation – the tassels turned, the caps perched
precariously, the procession across the stage. And then, always, there’s the
undercurrent of pride that’s running through the crowd. It’s pride at what’s
accomplished, and what’s been overcome.
pride is particularly strong at the graduations of Georgia’s state schools for
deaf and blind students – the Georgia Academy for the Blind, the Georgia School
for the Deaf, and the Atlanta Area School for the Deaf.
students are overcomers. They’ve reached a peak that has required enormous
work, and deserves enormous celebration.
have had to overcome challenges not all face,” State School Superintendent
Richard Woods said to those students. “Because of who you are, you were able to
overcome. Because of who you are, you are here today – and you are an
encouragement to us. We look at you and see what we can become.”
obstacles requires confidence, graduates at the Georgia School for the Deaf said.
used to lack belief I could be a successful deaf person,” GSD valedictorian
Christopher Buczynski said. “But my teachers gave me confidence.”
Kylie McGeaughay agreed.
family found a special fit for me when they found GSD,” McGeaughay said. “I
decided I wanted to see myself succeed.”
also requires the collaboration of many – and that collaboration leads to
success, said students and speakers at the Atlanta Area School for the Deaf.
are successful,” class speaker Erika Carrazco Estudill told her fellow
graduates. “Here we are, about to start our new lives.”
also requires persistence.
found that on my worst day,” said Mark Brunner, the graduation speaker at the
Georgia Academy for the Blind, “I couldn’t even come close to what my students
that need to persist is never viewed as an excuse. It is, instead, an incentive
you don’t think of yourself as disabled and unable, you can do anything you set
your mind to,” said Ashton Young, GAB’s senior class president. “Being blind
isn’t an excuse. Being blind just means we have to work harder and smarter –
and I know we are strong enough to do it.”
each school, hands waved or clapped triumphantly. Students cheered and clapped
for their classmates as they made their way across the stage. Graduates filed
out, gripping their teachers in hugs.
the room was full of celebration.