For the past four years we have had senior after senior graduating from our family. In 2017 Grace graduated from 21st Century Cyber Charter School (21CCCS) before heading to CCAC to pursue a degree in American Sign Language Interpreting. We took 2018 off, but in 2019 Molly graduated from 21CCCS and headed to BYU-Idaho to pursue a degree in environmental science before taking a sabbatical from school to prepare to serve a full time mission. This year I find myself with two more graduating seniors, bringing our grand total to four graduations in four years.
When Braden moved in 18 months ago, Toby and I became parents to “artificial twins.” Rusty and Braden are only 33 days apart in age. This has created an interesting dynamic in our home. It has not been without challenges and we have had to be mindful as parents in addressing the emotional and social effects of adopting a child out of birth order and so close in age to another child in the home, but it has also come with great blessings.
As a result of Braden’s adoption one year ago we find ourselves parents to two graduating seniors!
Their senior year, which started so typically, has ended up being one for the history books. “Normal” senior milestones like Prom and senior trips have been placed on hold in light of a worldwide pandemic. Both boys attend 21st Century Cyber Charter School, and despite the fact that their schooling already occurs online and within the home, they are both currently off school for the time being as part of the statewide shut down of public schools. At this point we are uncertain if they will finish out their senior year, experience the remaining senior milestones they were looking forward to, or even have a graduation ceremony. But despite all of that uncertainty, they have remained optimistic. They both have their eyes firmly set on the future and the exciting times that follow high school.
Rusty continues to be duel enrolled in our local community college where he is pursuing a degree in drone aviation. His classes have all been moved online for the time being. Upon graduation from high school he will finish out his degree with the goal of obtaining full time work as a drone pilot.
The discussion about Braden’s hopes and dreams for post-secondary life has been a priority this year, as we have worked to help him adjust to his new life as a member of the family, while also encouraging future planning…a skill that is hard to develop when you have lived a life of day to day survival. For a good portion of his life Braden hasn’t had the luxury of dreaming about what he could be or what he could do with his life in adulthood. He was too busy trying to survive his childhood. Now that he has been able to transition out of “survival mode,” he finds himself facing a future he never planned for. We found him to be overwhelmed with the thought of growing up, moving out, getting a job, making plans, and choosing a future for himself…especially in light of the fact that he only got to start being a kid at age 17. Knowing all this, my goal for his senior year was to slowly start exploring possibilities…helping him to discover his God-given gifts, talents and interests, while exploring possible degrees and occupations that are compatible to those gifts, talents and interests.
Over the course of his senior year Braden was able to conclude that he wanted to continue living at home for the time being, while pursuing a degree from a trade school. He is a kid who would much rather learn a skill hands on than to read a book about an obscure concept or theory. With that realization in mind we began looking into local trade schools near us.
Braden has now made a decision about his post-secondary plans…
He will be attending New Castle School of Trades to pursue a degree in automotive technology:
“Automotive technology is a course that focuses on automotive repair. In automotive technology you will learn everything “bumper to bumper” including but not limited to – engines, transmissions, brakes, suspensions, exhaust systems, and electrical systems.
An emphasis is placed on computer diagnosis and electronics due to the sophisticated nature of today’s technologies. We have recently integrated service desk training to prepare our graduates for the customer oriented side of the industry. Technical hands on training coupled with classroom theory makes for a great entry level journey into the automotive workplace.
Graduates of the Automotive Technology Program will be qualified for entry-level employment opportunities as automotive technicians in any of the nine ASE automotive repair categories.” -NCST website
Two weeks ago we set up an appointment for Braden to take the admission exam and to register him for the fall semester.
He is officially accepted as a student for the fall 2020 semester in the automotive technology program…and he is so excited!
As we exited the appointment, Braden shook his head, stunned by it all. “I just can’t believe this is my life,” he kept saying. “I just never thought my life could be like this. I mean, look at me…I’m part of a family. I can drive. I have a job. And now I am going to college!”
As we walked back to the car his smile was contagious.
How grateful I am for this young man and for the great blessing of being able to call him my son.
Watch out, world! This boy is going places!