Both of these young ladies surmounted great difficulties in achieving their goal of graduating from high school, and no doubt represent many other students who also have strived to overcome numerous hardships to graduate.
These young people serve as a reminder of the resiliency of the human spirit in difficult circumstances, as well as the impact of having someone caring and compassionate to come along and lend assistance at a crucial point.
For these two young ladies, their guidance counselors, Monique Sheppard at Glenn Hills High School and Ame Holmes at Cross Creek High School, stepped in to fill that need. These two counselors are a tribute to our school system, and represent many other dedicated staff throughout our schools who go well beyond the scope of their duties to guide students through hardships to achieve success.
The value of public education is that it gives everyone, regardless of circumstances, the opportunity to learn and achieve. But along with this privilege of opportunity comes responsibility on the part of all involved, not only the school system but the students, their parents and community, to promote respectfulness and appropriate behavior as well as a willingness to learn.
Certainly, Jamilla Shabazz and Jesika McNeal are two students who realized the value of their opportunity for education and, in spite of all their hardships, achieved their goal of graduating.
Congratulations to both of them, and to all our other high-school students who graduated this year, and much success to each of them as they go forth in life.
(The writer represents at-large District 10 on the Richmond County Board of Education.)