Today I celebrated something significant to me. It was the CKM Humanities and International Studies Program’s Senior BBQ, Class of 2022. And I am so very proud of my daughter. My kids. Both of them are HISP graduates. Survivors. Academic warriors. Hard workers. Solid writers. Smart cookies.
But here is something else I feel as I watch my kids do well…I’m proud of my gawd damn self, too.
When I was a freshman at CKM, I was admitted into the 2nd HISP class. Like the year before was the very first year they ever had HISP. Class of 1990. I had both Mr. & Mrs. Wong as my teachers. It was very early in their careers, lol. I dropped out of HISP after that first year of failing at least Mr. Darling’s Lit class and I’m sure I had at best a D in Mr. Wong’s World Civ class. It was too hard, I mean, I didn’t want to work that hard. I was too busy surviving my life to be able to also survive HISP. The teachers cared just as much then as they do now. It wasn’t them, it was me. And maybe a lack of the parental support that I needed to succeed. I always felt inferior because of that, to certain people anyway and I did not earn the respect of my teachers at that age. We all have our own journey to be on, and mine got me here, so…in the end, wherever you go there you are. It just takes some of us longer.
Tonight, my teacher and cheerleading advisor, Ellen Wong, who is now in charge of HISP, awarded my daughter her certificate of completion of four years of excellence in HISP. Another favorite, Lori Jablonski, handed Cassidy the coveted HISP mug and cord for graduation. Hard earned. We now have two HISP graduates in the family, and only one drop-out.
And this drop-out pulled her own damn self out of adverse circumstances too long to list and created this life of abundance and stability so her kids could jump off and go wherever the fuck they want in life. I’m proud of that.
So go, Cass, go
The other thing that hits me deep in a way only a lion can understand is that tonight was likely the very last time Robbie and I will sit in that lunch quad. That’s where Robbie told me he couldn’t go to prom with me because he was having knee surgery. I had already bought my dress. I guess I forgave him for that. Kinda. I still have that damn pink dress, with the tags still on. We spent a lot of time in that quad. When I’m there it feels like 1986 again.
It’s likely the last time I’m going to walk this hallway, where my locker was that first year. Right next to Nadia’s. She’s my best friend forever. I even lived with her for awhile. Her dad went with me to the Carol Miller Justice Center when I had to have a truancy hearing in my Senior year. Many of you know that I had my own apartment when I was 15, just before I turned 16, in my Junior year at CKM. So if I need an excuse, to be fair, I was left unsupervised. Her dad was my stand-in. He was a good one. He even drove me frantically down K Street to the Crest Theatre on my wedding day, so I wouldn’t be late walking down the aisle. You see where I’m going with this?
The only place I ever claimed as home was this place. I met my husband there. And some of my BSFs. (that’s Teen for best sister friend, more than a best friend, like a sister) We all bleed red. CKM and don’t you forget it. CKM will always be faithful and true to you. You wish you were a lion. Clap your hands everybody, everybody clap your hands. It’s CKM going all the way the best in the land. We got spirit, yes we do. We got spirit, how ‘bout you?
Maybe you don’t get it. That’s ok. I just felt like telling you what this day meant to me and how I saved my damn self while walking these hallways, in part because of the relationships I formed back then and the support and loyalty I found in the friendships I created there. It’s a special community of people and I am so proud to have also raised my kids there. I’m so proud of what it took to get us all here. Them. Me. Us.
Thank you, Ellen & Lori, for all these years. All of them.