We've officially reached graduation season and students everywhere are donning their robes and receiving their degrees. But for one family in Oakland, the occasion is also a bit bittersweet. Jahi McMath was declared brain dead last year at age 13, after suffering from complications during surgery to remove her tonsils. But now, after calling on the school board, the family will be awarded an honorary diploma from Jahi's middle school on graduation day.
She was in the eighth grade at E.C. Reems Academy of Technology and Arts and was on track to graduate at the time of her surgery in December. After the procedure, she went into cardiac arrest, and doctors confirmed that she was unable to breathe and had no blood flow or electrical activity in her brain. Her family has since privately moved her to a ventilator.
But on Friday, she will be a part of her class once again. Her uncle confirmed yesterday that the school's principal will award Jahi's diploma to a family member during the ceremony.
Events like graduations might seem very formulaic, official, and frankly, ceremonial. But they mean so much for parents and families because of what they represent. Celebrating children and students for their accomplishments, and recognizing the family members who helped them get there, is the biggest purpose of a ceremony. Sure, there's all the pomp and circumstance, the after-party, and the stuffy traditional wear, but it's really about commemorating and honoring the kids and what they have accomplished.
They're a reminder that our kids are making a mark in this world, that their efforts in school mean something. As much as they mean for the kids at the event, they mean even more for the parents of kids like Jahi.
At 13 years old, Jahi had almost completed her full elementary education. Honoring her for her achievements and giving the family recognition and support is really the right thing to do.
How do you feel about schools awarding honorary diplomas to kids who didn't complete their schoolwork?
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