Sunday, February 13, 2011

First Essay

The first essay has come in for grading.  I'm currently in the COG--Cave of Grading--a place that has been well described by Dante.  That aside, this essay is one where the students describe when they hit a turning point, a place where they enter through a portal into adulthood, leaving childhood behind.  Some are quite mundane (getting a girlfriend, a driver's license) but others are dramatic.  Following my friend Judy's lead, here are some of my students' stories:
  • Woke up one morning to Child Protective Services banging down his door; mother arrested for endangering a minor with her drug habit and teenager sent to live with the father.  (What this student never answers is who turned her in?  I have my money on the ex-husband, the father.)
  • Decides her family is a pain, so moves in with a girlfriend during sophmore year of high school.  Downward slide of truancy and partying stopped only when met at school by Mom, sheriff and principal.  After two years, moves back home.
  • Student's father dies on Valentine's Day of her eighth-grade year.
  • Busted by cops at a local teen hangout while enjoying a beer, student and his friend are roughed up pretty severely by police.
  • Student got herself into substantial debt while in high school; is working fifty hours a week at two jobs to pay down what she owes, while attending college full-time.
  • Student's mother divorces and student remains with mother through bad stepfather and two difficult living situations.  Student goes home to see his father for holidays; mother hangs herself on Christmas Eve.
  • A near-disaster on a construction site--when his father is nearly buried when the ground gives way-- wakes up a student to the harsh realities of the adult world.
  • After being beaten for nearly her entire life, a young woman runs away from home.  Her grandparents take her in, and help her become emancipated.
That last one had me in tears, because while I can be pretty inured to the writing of my students, she wrote with delicacy and great emotion.  I admire all these students who have struggled through difficult things and now sit in my classroom with all kinds of hopes and dreams for their future. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Some people have to go through really hard things! It's amazing they come out of it OK. My friend had a year like that last year (dad died, mom died, dog died, cousin died, etc...) and it just never seemed to end for her. She is 45 and it was still one of those experiences you describe...walked in as one person, and out as another.