These excerpts from recent graduation speeches are a powerful expression of how Greenwood transforms the lives of its students.
Before I came to Greenwood I was having a tough time getting along with others, completing homework, and I didn’t feel like I was able to be myself. I always felt like the oddball out, never felt like I could express myself the way I wanted, and I didn’t really have friends. I felt pretty horrible. When I sat down at a lunch table, other kids would get up and move to a different table.
When I came to Greenwood, all of that changed…not immediately, but soon enough I felt like I had a whole new family in which I could be myself. Instead of feeling excluded, everyone reached out to me and pulled me into the community. At Greenwood everyone struggles in some way or another, and we’re all in it together. Greenwood helped me academically by showing me the different steps I can take to be successful with homework, and helped me understand myself as a learner. Greenwood showed me that I could work through rough times. I feel like I am a good person. I feel confident, I feel accepted, and I feel happy about my progress. Without Greenwood I would never be in the place I am today, or be the person I am today.
Before Greenwood , I was very impulsive—I had a lot of ideas, but I couldn’t find the focus and I didn’t have the strategies to effectively express my ideas. My impulsivity also got me into some challenging situations. Academically, I didn’t feel like I was learning well because I didn’t feel the teachers understood me and they moved through material very fast and I couldn’t keep up.
When I came to Greenwood I immediately felt the warmth and comfort within the community because the faculty was clearly here for the students, they understood the students, and that made me feel very comfortable and safe. I could also immediately feel the creativity pumping through the school. I felt that I could explore my imagination in the woodshop, and enjoyed building things. Greenwood offered me my first opportunity to work in a woodshop and I found that loved it, and I didn’t feel limited in any way—I felt like I could explore my imagination and build anything. I also found that it was very easy to learn music with Derrik teaching me. I never played music before Greenwood and now I play piano, drums, guitar, bass guitar and I even sing. I feel very emotionally connected to music and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to develop a passion for music. I am grateful that I had so many opportunities to express myself in so many different ways.
During my time at Greenwood, it’s been remarkable to witness the growth of the school, as well as my own growth. When I first arrived, the dorm was only two floors with a small common area and the shop was a small, single room, built to accommodate only a few people. Since then, the school has grown exponentially, and I feel I have as well.
Before Greenwood, I was a shy, anxious person, who was unsure of himself. I didn’t really know how smart I was, or what I was capable of. Now I feel I have a better idea of who I am. Most of my academics have improved. And I have discovered I have a passion for art, drawing especially. I feel more confident in my social skills, and I have made good friends that I will stay connected to even after Greenwood.
I will miss the Greenwood campus, for it has been my second home. I will miss the students and faculty, for being like my extended family.
When I was about nine or ten years old, I began to notice that I couldn’t read well, and I couldn’t do simple math problems. I got frustrated. I couldn’t keep up with the expectations of the class. My parents noticed that something was different, and I was taken to some people who eventually diagnosed me with Dyslexia, ADHD, and other big words that I didn’t know. One day my mom told me that I was going to look at some schools and I enrolled at Greenwood.
Now five years later I know that my family and I made the right choice. I feel that I have gained many skills. I would be lost if I was still in public school. Greenwood offers a unique opportunity that we are all fortunate to have in our lives.
I have grown up here. This has been my second home for so long, and saying good bye is going to be one of the hardest things that I have had to do, but I have to. While I am excited to be here about to continue my journey, I am also sad; this has truly been a life changing experience that I will never forget.
Finally, I just want to say to everybody: Life at Greenwood is by no means perfect. There is no way that it can be, and that’s what makes it special. We are one big family, and like all families we don’t always get along, and we don’t always think that some things are fair. But in the end we are there for each other, and that’s what counts. Don’t take things for granted because there are so many things offered here that you could not get anywhere else. Just push through, and try your best because that’s all that anybody could ever ask of you. I can’t believe that it took me five years to fully appreciate, and be grateful for all of the good things because there were so many. Be grateful, and don’t take the special things for granted.