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Challenge: Class of 2020

Celebrating all the little things that lead to the big accomplishments

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“Every big accomplishment is a series of little accomplishments.” David Joseph Schwartz

Tonight Matthew graduated from the 8th Grade Morning Star Program at Sacred Heart Cathedral School. Let that sink in for a minute, Matthew graduated from 8th grade. There was a time when we doubted he might ever participate in these traditional and expected rites of passage.

Yet, by the grace of God we find ourselves here. I knew I wanted to share this night with you all and when I found the quote from David Schwartz it truly synthesized my feelings about the night.

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This commencement definitely falls into the “big things” category, yet so many “little things” and important people made it possible.

God is ever present in Matthew’s story, even when I question his methods or answers to my prayers. So thanks be to God for knowing what Matthew needs when I do not and for placing the right people and places in our path.

Every teacher, therapist, staff member and priest from preschool through 8th grade helped Matthew reach this goal. Each of them contributed in their own way to where Matthew stood tonight. Some of them for how earnestly they believed in and encouraged Matthew and some for their doubts. Sometimes the doubters motivate success just as much as the believers, because we strive so hard to prove them wrong. Today we thank them all.

We especially thank the ones who realize when Matthew needs a break, who focus on what he can do and build their curriculum around his learning strengths, who see all the potential hidden away in that brain of his, who demand good behavior and will take no less, who bring him McDonald’s as a reward, who dry his tears when he is sad, who learn to move and groove with The Wiggles!

His classmates deserve a thank you as well. The students (and their parents) who see him, embrace his quirks and cheer on his successes earn so much respect and gratitude from me. They take a moment in their day to greet him by name, to ask him about his favorite television show or movie, to speak to me about how much they enjoy him. Those kids are working on their wings. I cannot express to them how much I appreciate their kindness. If I did, I would cry and it would make them terribly uncomfortable. Parents of SHCS 8th graders--if you are reading this, please tell your students “thank you” from Matthew’s mom, thank you for their kindness and acceptance of Matthew.

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Tonight was not just a celebration for Matthew, but for all of the 8th graders, for all of those whose series of little accomplishments led to this big accomplishment.

It might not look like we hoped it would back on August 12 when school began, but in my opinion it was just right and was definitely an event that no one in attendance will ever forget.

Afterwards we went home and celebrated Matthew style! We celebrated with a Hawaiian luau right in our very own back yard, complete with pineapple and pepperoni pizza, fruit salad, grass skirts, Hawaiian shirts and a lei.

Matthew proclaimed, “it was the best luau ever!”

My heart is happy and so was his!

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