June 5, 2015

Graduation at the Most Diverse High School in the Country

One of the many schools that RAYS is happy to support is Foster High School in Tukwila. The Tukwila School District is one of the most diverse in the country. With just 5 schools, the student body represents many cultures and ethnic groups and speak more than 60 world languages. Over 80% of the students qualify for free and reduced lunch and many of the families live in transitional housing. The students at Foster are truly inspiring.

Graduation is a time to celebrate achievements, reaching goals and overcoming obstacles. Perhaps even more so at Foster High School. Jennifer Nuckols, one of our counselors at Foster, was honored to attend the ceremony last year. As the 2015 class comes close to their graduation day (June 12th), Jennifer¬†shares her thoughts about Foster’s graduation. We at RAYS wish all of the graduating students a happy, healthy future. We can’t wait to see how you impact our world.

Foster High School Graduation

By Jennifer Nuckols

The most diverse school district in the country
African-American, Argentinian, Bhutanese, Black, Bosnian, Ethiopian, Hmong, Mexican, Mixed, Samoan, Somali, Vietnamese, White
All have sat in my blue Ikea couch chair.
The loudspeaker warbles the words of the commencement speaker, the daughter of a
Bosnian refugee:
We represent the unity of the worldbeauty

When the principal leads the pledge of allegiance, I am the only one in my section of the bleachers who knows the words.
But even without reciting it,
they understand the dream, the promise of
liberty and justice for all
because today, their daughter is the first from their family to graduate high school.
This is what they have worked for, yearned for –
for their next generation.

Today they celebrate with
Congrats Grad! balloons (some float up and away during the ceremony),
layers of peanut butter cup and bubble gum candy leis,
an out-of-tune performance of Pomp and Circumstance,
new high heel shoes,
posters plastered with computer print-out pictures of their grad,
yells and screams and chants
that are occasionally drowned out by the airplanes passing overhead
– this is the town that neighbors SeaTac airport –
where some first arrived from their country,
where others will never walk onto a plane.

For almost every student who proudly hoists up their diploma,
there is one who has not, who will not.

I know both their stories.
She had a baby April, came back to school and finished all her missing work.
He struggled with depression and in the end, could not make it out of bed to come to school.
He won a turn-around scholarship, raising a 0.4 GPA to a 3.4 GPA in two years.
She was suspended three weeks before the end of school for marijuana possession and never came back.
She stayed on the honor roll after her parents kicked her out and she couched surfed with friends.
He got his girlfriend pregnant and left school to start working for diaper money.

Today with their families
we celebrate the victories
the sacrifices
the future plans
the diversity,
and work and yearn for those who are absent