Small Victories are Sweetest

“It’s not where you stand, but what direction you are moving” was the apt backdrop of the 17th Annual Work Experience Banquet at Penn High School.

As I looked around the room, I saw my children’s  “village”: special needs teens who, just for tonight, were the achievers. Tomorrow they would go back to the struggle, just trying to eke by to get a high school diploma (if possible). But tonight, kids and parents faces were alight with pride.

Mr. Mott, who has been running the dessert “banquet” celebration for many years, did not sugar-coat his comments, but spoke from the heart for each student. “This one wasn’t sure he wanted to work here at first, but by the end of the year he was glad he tried it!” And “this student never gives up, always looks for something more to do.” Very specific and sincere. Sarah’s was, “When she shows up, she works hard and the cafeteria staff are always glad to see her!”

Sarah’s eyes grew as big as saucers. “Really? They LIKE having me there?” She trotted up to get her award, smiling shyly. Then, when the video featuring all the students began and she realized she was the first student featured, she covered her eyes and laughed. “They told me I was in this … Wow!”

When you are raising kids with “invisible” special needs, it can be rough going at times. You listen and try not to envy the moms whose kids score athletic and academic scholarships, who get into their first or even second choice of schools. You listen as they regale the group with stories of their kids going off to prom, or flash their senior pictures. And you wish with all your heart you had something to contribute to the conversation.

But tonight, just for a moment, we all stood tall and proud. And it was glorious.

Sincere thanks to Mr. John Mott, Mrs. Virginia Shafer, Mrs. Patti Walton, and to all the Penn High School staff


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