This year there will be no white Chevy Tahoe, small yellow school bus or big yellow school bus stopping by our house. This year Alex will not stall until she has missed the high school bus and ask one of us to drive her to school. For the first time in 17 years, Alex will not be attending school. This is bittersweet.
Alex graduated from high school in June with an academic diploma, and is ineligible to receive services from our public school system. This is a decision Alex made, she wants to go to college just like her older sister and just like her peers, and we supported her. This is not bittersweet, it was time to move on.
Alex has been wait-listed at her first choice college. Over 100 students applied for 10 spots, and Alex was one of lucky ones to make the wait list. This has turned out to be a good thing – in the world of things happen for a reason – as she will be training for the Winter World Games, and would have missed a lot of school. She will have priority for next year.
If things work as planned, Alex will spend the year interning in a restaurant, clothing store and the childcare program at Snowmass, exploring her interests and honing down on her future dreams. Alex will be taking courses at the local community college, and music and art lessons in community based programs. Alex will not be doing anything with our local service provider, she is not interested in being segregated from the rest of the population, or have limitations set by federal or state dollars.
This year Alex is a 19 year old high school graduate taking a “gap” year, just like thousands of other high school graduates across the country. She will take public transportation and her bus will be purple, blue and white, no yellow anywhere. She will be part of our community, included and valued for her contribution.
When I think back on the last 17 years of Alex’s education, I remember all the fears, tears and cheers that accompanied this passage of time. We met so many wonderful and caring professionals, and some not so wonderful or caring. We had great years, and not so great years. We had growth and regression, but mostly we had pride. Pride in Alex, pride in her teams and pride in her future. It has been a journey that we have only partially traveled, and it is the best journey I have ever taken.
When I started this blog in August 2009, I set out to document Alex, her strengths, her challenges and her spirit. A big part of Alex’s journey has been through the school system and I wrote a series entitled “Educating Alex”. To celebrate this journey I will be republishing this series for the next two weeks. Who knows maybe we learned something.