Rising to the challenge: What a high school student can teach us about success

Tulip you can do it

Valerie is like a crocus making her way up through the debris of winter. The high school senior could have stayed in that place that kept her out of the light. It would have been easy.

Putting forth no effort, she skipped school, got suspended and was failing most of her classes. She didn’t expect anything of herself so she had nothing to give. Then one fall afternoon, The Challenge Program, Inc. came to her school with a message.

In a kick-off assembly, Valerie and the rest of the school’s students were challenged with an incentive to take their academic performance to the next level. The message sank in and the next morning when she walked into school, she said, “This is going to be a new day.”

It was because somebody believed in her. Somebody told her she could rise to the expectation. And so she did.

Valerie started to come to school every day. In the process, she improved her attitude and her grades. The next year, she won the program’s Academic Improvement Award. Suddenly, she wasn’t in that dark place anymore.

For her efforts, the high school senior was recently named The Challenge Program, Inc. Student of the Year. I got to spend the afternoon with her for a video being produced for the program. When I arrived at the school, I was told the attention might be too much for her and when they brought her into the room, I could see that it was.

But this wasn’t the Valerie who used to have no expectation of herself. Instead, this was someone who went from failing to making A’s and B’s and taking Honor classes. This was the Valerie who made it her goal to become a veterinarian. She didn’t accomplish all of that to stop here.

As we sat and talked, she came to realize that what she had achieved was truly remarkable. Once again, she rose to the occasion and we spent the rest of the afternoon capturing her story.

We all have a little Valerie in us. We don’t want to fail. And we’ll rise to the expectations of those around us who really care. Let’s hope and pray that every child has someone who is rooting for them along the way – someone like you.

May every child blossom in spite of their past. May every child know they have a future that is as bright as they can imagine.

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  One thought on “Rising to the challenge: What a high school student can teach us about success

  1. John Ruggieri
    March 16, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    Congratulations Valerie!!

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