Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

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April 15, 2013

COLUMN: Senior thankful for Jacksonville High School after a rather tumultuous four years

CHEROKEE COUNTY — When I had the privilege of interviewing Jacksonville ISD Superintendent Dr. Joe Wardell  a few weeks ago, he told me something really profound:

 “Very rarely in your life do we have traditions that we can uphold — and honoring the students is one of those traditions,” he said.

This is an important statement to me. It stuck with me. As a child of divorce, I also have very few traditions of my own. So you'll understand that despite my initial resistance, Jacksonville High School has become very important to me over the past few months.

As I prepare to (I hope) soon graduate from Jacksonville High School at the Tomato Bowl at 7:30 p.m. on May 31, I can't help but recall the whirlwind of change these last four years of my life been — a whirlwind I believe this school has helped stabilize.

Jacksonville High School is technically my fourth high school, thanks in part to my father taking custody of me a year ago and changing jobs and towns a few times.

As a published writer and comic book author, I was even interviewed on the Today Show once: ( See http://www.today.com/id/32462328/ns/today-today_news/t/-year-olds-superhero-may-solve-real-life-case/)

But not even that fantastic experience could make up for not having a stable four years of high school.

As graduation approaches at Jacksonville High School, I can't help but thank my teachers and school officials for working with me as I both sorted through my life and prepared for the future — with a lot of ADHD thrown in as far as classes were concerned.

I know that I will remember Jacksonville High School with much fondness.

As children we yearn for adventure, to go new places, to meet new people. However, most of us don't understand the emotional and financial ramifications of such endeavors.

I started learning a lot about abrupt change after I switched custody from my mother to my father. While waiting for my Dad to come get me, I stayed for awhile with my awesome Nana, Anne Miller, who drove me back and forth to school from Fort Worth to Keller and back each day, over 50 miles each leg of the trip.

After school was over last year, I moved to Kerrville with my Dad so he could work at the newspaper there — leaving my girlfriend, best friends and other acquaintances behind.

Kerrville, just so you know, is a mountainous region with amazing scenery. It was there I went to summer school and spent the summer. But my eczema started really acting up and prevented me from having much summer fun.

When my father decided to take a job in Pampa, we moved to the Panhandle area.  It was there that I fit in very well with the quirky crowd at Pampa High School — a very fun senior year in all.

But that good time ended abruptly when my father took a job in this larger town called Jacksonville.

I'll be honest: I was uncomfortable here at first because I am not used to going to school at a place where people haven't known me for years.

I will admit that my concentration, my attention span, plummeted and I sank in grade level to the lowest in the class. Aargh.

But, thanks to the help of my very dedicated teachers, I believe I am back on track. And because of their positive influence, I to spend what's left of the school year excelling in my work. And, finally, walking the stage.

I'm 18 years old now. And soon, I hope to have a high school degree in my hand and start junior college in the fall.

I know I bounced around a lot during high school, but I'm really glad where I landed. Thank you, Jacksonville High School.

Your friend always,

Jake

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