There will always be joys and tragedies.
by Cathie Maglio, Blended Learning Specialist
Another tragic and senseless loss. A Haverhill High student who had just graduated was shot and killed last month when he answered a knock on his door. This student participated in the JFYNet program at Haverhill High last year. I did not know him personally, but having spent many hours and days at Haverhill High I know the principal, many teachers, and dozens of students I have worked with over the past two years. I feel the loss of this young life too.
I’ve thought a lot about why I feel this loss so much. Of course, the senseless taking of a human life is a deeply disturbing violation of every value I’ve ever been taught. This young person had his whole life ahead of him. The news accounts said he had difficulties and challenges in his life but overcame them to graduate from high school. This was a huge accomplishment for him and his family. That diploma contained the promise of a bright future.
Now he will never go to college, or work in a job he loves, or marry, have children, live a life with family and friends. All this was taken from him when he answered that door. In the blink of an eye, the crack of a gunshot, he was gone.
Try as I might, I cannot understand this senseless killing, or the many other assaults and murders we hear about. I cannot understand young people shooting, wounding, maiming and killing other young people. How can there be so much hatred? How can there be so little regard for the value of a human life just like your own? What could have happened between these two young people to cause so much anger and hatred? Two lives are now lost, the victim and the shooter. Both are victims. I don’t have answers. I hope someone does.
This young death was a tragedy. I can’t minimize it, but I can seek consolation in all the good things that have happened in my schools. For example, a student at East Boston High who worried how she was going to pay for college was awarded a full scholarship to a good four-year college. At Revere High, a student who never expected to go to college and didn’t compile a stellar academic record was awarded an athletic scholarship to a four-year college, showing that there are many ways to earn a ticket to the future.
I work with many students who don’t think of themselves as college material but then do well on the Accuplacer college placement tests and realize that they can in fact do college work. Accuplacer scores are an objective standard. It’s hard for a student to deny his or her own ability when the score is right in front of their eyes. I never get tired of seeing the reactions on their faces when they realize their scores meet the standard for college level classes. I feel a sense of joy knowing that I played a small supporting role in these students’ lives. I may never know how well they do in the future or meet the person they become, but I do know that I have planted a seed in them. I like to think that their Accuplacer success shows them they can do whatever they put their minds to.
Life is about balance. There will always be joys and tragedies. When tragedy happens it can be difficult to remember and celebrate the joys. The young man in Haverhill will be mourned and missed by his family, friends, schoolmates and teachers, and he will also be celebrated for the love, joy, and happiness his short life brought them.
May he rest in peace, and may we find a way to bring the senseless violence to a stop.