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The struggle and the success

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Mark Marberry Mug

Mark Marberry

Elsewhere in this edition, I interviewed Dr. Mike Rickermann, who directs the non-traditional classes for the Farmington R-7 School District. His building houses a collection of students who do not perform well in regular classes for many different reasons.

As we spoke about the students working diligently at the Dayse Baker Learning Center, it reminded me of some thoughts that I put together about a different group of students while covering the Farmington High School graduation ceremony held earlier in the year.

High school graduation is that time where students and their loved ones celebrate those years of achievement. It’s that milestone or marker in life where you move from the before to after. I use my graduation year of 1986 as that guideline of what my youth was like.

It’s where the exuberance of youth and friends and community often fades into that new chapter of moving off to college or university and new friends and vistas, or the reality of stepping into the world of work and becoming closer to being an adult.

High school graduation is looking back at the successes that you had for 12 years. For some of the graduates, the academic grades prove that they made the effort of serious study at math, science, art, and other things that showed an earnest attempt at blossoming into that full flower of knowledge. For others, it is the culmination of sports achievement that stretches the physical ability in competition against other students.

While covering the event, I was sitting in an area where I noticed something else. It was some students that could easily be overlooked in all the pomp and ceremony. One or two of the students became overwhelmed with what was probably sensory overload. The massive crowd, the music, the applause, the high noise level can be too much for some people with extreme sensitivities. It leads to agitation and disorientation, which requires close counseling and intervention to divert that high emotional state.

At one point, a staff member took one of the students into another room, and the student had a clear look of distress when leaving hand in hand with the staffer. A short while later, both returned, and the student returned to their seat with the rest of the graduating class, having regained their composure. Some of the other students in caps and gowns also tried to keep them composed while celebrating their achievements.

Yes, for many of the students, it was the celebration of many achievements, some quite easily gained with incredible skill and talent. But for these other students, it was the celebration of 12 years of struggle, coping and understanding a world that can be foreign to them and in many ways always will be.

No, there may be no scholarships for these students after all their struggles. There may not be any great accolades from coworkers or industry peers. There may not be any trophies on a shelf or plaques or framed certificates hanging on a wall with their name on it — except for one. There will be that diploma stating that they graduated from Farmington High School.

May God bless those instructors who took part in those 12 years to help them adjust to life. May God bless those adults and students who made a sincere effort to get them through that important ceremony. God bless those students that struggled. God bless every one of them. They made it.

Mark Marberry is a reporter for the Farmington Press and Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3629, or at


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