Guest Column: Celebrating Adult Education

GRATEFUL GRADS School officials Rick Charvet, Greg Camacho-Light and Jose Franchi welcome new graduate, Jovita Caspary at ceremonies for the 2017 Gilroy Adult Education class. 

This was the speech given by Adult Ed director Rick Charvet to the graduating class last week.
“Students learn what they care about, from people they care about and who, they know care about them,” writer Barbara Harrell Carson once said.
In fact, students need to view school as a magical place where they discover new things and ideas and accepted for who they are—we need to remind them “It will all be okay.”
Welcome. Thank you for being here. I believe a strong community and world is built by all of us, so do me a favor and look to the person next to you and say, “Thank you for helping support our graduates.” We are all part of the “bigger picture” whether we want to be or not. All gestures great and small pave the way for future generations.
In the beginning, I heard, “If we build it, they will come.” So…When GUSD said Adult Ed would return, I said, “Cool. Yeeessssssss!” Why? Because I love working with people who need someone to believe in them. To push them. To tell them, “It’s going to work out—you just need to believe in yourself.”
From all backgrounds, when many of our graduates arrived in September, they saw a small, one-room schoolhouse with a few people scrambling to make sense of their transcripts. But, we went through thorough inspections (Thank you Mr. Franchi) and made sense of their plans.
Where many saw a barren field, I saw a grand cathedral in all its splendor.
Charvet, are you crazy? Yes, a little, but I think of myself as a “creative visionary.” I imagine possibilities where others don’t. Most said, “You really think I can graduate?” Let me put in this way: when I coached sports, I believed we would win every game. Catch my drift?
Through our sweat equity; by hammering assignment by assignment and assessment by assessment the framework for our “schoolhouse of dreams” rose from a strong foundation. Continual words of encouragement were our daily mantra. And during our little breaks, albeit “Teacher and Student,” we found out we shared more as human beings than we realized. Our life stories were more similar than different.
The key ingredient? Someone was there to give us HOPE.
And now, we are here today—celebrating our accomplishments.
Earlier this month, I saw my older son graduate with his Masters in Music. The commencement speaker had three wishes for the graduates: to be significant, to be successful, and most of all to be happy. I will add: to remember those who helped you; to be a gentler, kinder person, and always have your sights on “your cathedral.” It is your vision. Never let anyone tell your life is just a “barren field.”
Tonight, the light through your beautiful cathedral windows shine on you. The poem Desiderata tells us, “…Beyond a wholesome discipline, you are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here…” And as Mark Twain reminded us as well, “The two most important days in our lives is the day we were born and the day we find out why.”
All of us at Adult Ed hope we helped you find your “why” because commencement is not a word for school graduations, it is a new beginning and a fresh start on life.
And in sum, the immortal words of Tupac Shakur…
“Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete?
Proving nature’s law is wrong it learned to walk without having feet.
Funny it seems, but by keeping it’s dreams; it learned to breathe fresh air.
Long live the rose that grew from concrete when no one else ever cared.”
We cared.
And together through passion and perseverance,
We did it!
Enjoy your “Cathedral”—YOUR—high school diploma.