Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Graduation and Austin Cincotta

       A recent report from America's Promise Alliance on high school graduation rates reports that the United States High School Graduation Rate rose to 81.4% in 2013.  This represents a steady increase over the two prior years--a promising trend toward the (albeit, lofty) goal of a 90% high school graduation rate by 2020.  Ninety percent?? Maybe.   By 2020??  Not likely.

       About 3.3 million students are expected to graduate from high school this year according to the National Center for Educational Statistics. When we talk about millions of high school graduates and their collective prospects in the working world and the college world, it's easy to look at broad trends and predict likely outcomes.  But when we look at individuals, we move to the realm of real people with real concerns, real emotions, and real dreams for the their future.

       One of this year's high school graduates is my son, Austin Cincotta.  He was born in the waning years of the 20th century and grew up in the early years of the digital age.  He never used a rotary phone and he never changed a TV channel by turning a dial on the television.  He's loves his family, is a good friend, has been a boy scout since first grade, plays multiple instruments, and is interested in robotics and motion pictures.  He is excited about graduating from high school and moving on to the next phase of life.

       As for me, I am very excited for him and for the types of experiences that he will have over the next few years.  He will experience the freedoms and responsibilities of college while he thinks about his future endeavors.  He will be frustrated by meeting requirements that don't seem to have a direct link to his interests, and he will thrive in the areas that do.  He will have support from family and friends and (hopefully) from his school and his teachers.

     Our P-12 system along with family and community has done its best to prepare my son for his life after high school.  There will be ups and downs.  Ultimately his ability to make decisions, to meet goals, and achieve are up to him.  Still, I have the following hopes:

  • I hope he is willing to ask questions when he doesn't understand something and he needs to understand it
  • I hope he chooses right over wrong, even when right isn't comfortable
  • I hope he understands the value of hard work and sees (or "imagines" if he can't see it) the benefits on the other side of hard work
  • I hope he takes some chances that may be based on good criteria, but who's endpoint cannot always be known at the beginning.
  • I hope he loves what he does
       When he was little, people always told me that I couldn't protect him from all of life's dangers.  I still can't.  I can try, but I can't do it all of the time.  It is his time to face the joys and dangers of life.

       Ladies and gentleman of the world, I present my son, Austin Cincotta--quite possibly the most precious and special high school graduate this year!

       Be nice to him.  He's still learning.

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