For most folks in North America, high school graduation is a special time in their lives. It’s a recognition of twelve or thirteen years of hard work, according to the various school district’s grading system. Graduation was even more special when I was a teenager as employers back then viewed it as being good enough to hire people.
Though I graduated grade twelve, I didn’t attend my graduation ceremony or attend a grad party. I did value my accomplishment but I lacked the money to rent a cap and gown. This was because I was on Social Assistance at the time. It was a big improvement over the pittance Dad gave me to live on but paying all that money to rent clothes for one evening seemed extravagant to me.
Most high school students have friends and family who would be pleased to watch them graduate. Not so with me. I had few friends and my family lived twenty miles away. Mom and Dad weren’t on speaking terms anymore so my family members would have to take the Greyhound bus into the city and rent a hotel room for the night. I lived in a tiny room with a bed just big enough for me and one small person. It meant that Linda could stay with me but Mom and Diane would have to find somewhere else to stay.
By the end of June, I felt all “schooled” out. Being visually-impaired meant that I had to study harder. The school had helpers who read long book assignments onto tape but I still had to put in those extra evening hours listening to the recordings and jotting down notes. Homework also took me longer as I had to use the closed-circuit TV reader in the library. Operating it became tedious because my eyes became tired after a while and I’d have to rest them.
Schooling is much easier for visual-impaired children today. With computers equipped with screen reader programs and other technical advances not available in 1975, they can do research on the web and print out beautifully-formatted reports. Even so, I value my diploma because I worked so hard for it. So to all those graduating and working this summer to pay for college or university, I say “well done!”
By the way, I wrote about my junior high and high school years in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Get yourself a copy, in paperback or e-book form, from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.