School Daze

The month of May is coming to a close, and so too, the school year.
J.J. Maldonado is ending his middle school career with a flourish of good grades. This is not unexpected, as he is a good student. The other day, J.J.’s mother was showing off her son’s many awards.  Tucked in amongst the papers was a very fine certificate from the White House. President Obama had written J.J., offering him congratulations and encouragement and wishing him “the very best in the years ahead.”
Sr. Irma, a Daughter of Charity who knows the family well, sighed. “He is a Dream Act child,” she said, “he will need more than best wishes.”
The Dream Act, a piece of bi-partisan legislation that would offer a legal remedy to those who were brought to the United States as children, continues to languish in Congress, one more captive in the polarized national political scene.
A.B. Troncoso ended his high school soccer career with a bang. A.B. is an all-star defender and a senior, and when his team was awarded a penalty try toward the end of a playoff game, the coach sent him out to take the shot. His family was at the game, and they raced to the edge of the stadium seating, cameras at hand, watching, anxiously, as their brother raced toward the ball.
He hit a powerful shot that boomed! as it hit the bar. He had missed, barely, but he did miss.  As A.B. trotted off, disappointed, even as the sound of his miss continued to echo from across the way, his older sister Claudia, herself quite the soccer player, cheered him on. She knew the nature of setbacks—temporary in nature, offering an opportunity to recalculate and make the necessary adjustments. A.B. had one more game to play, and then he moves on to college, where he might just get more shots on goal.
Claudia is a Dream Act candidate herself, and so knows a bit about setbacks. She is a stellar student who graduated from college last May. Claudia was set to return to Mexico when her grandmother came to see her. Her grandmother told Claudia that she had taken a second job, and hoped that that income would help Claudia start graduate school in Brownsville. “Matamoros is no place to come to right now,” said Claudia’s grandmother, referring to the horrors of the violence of that failed city. Claudia did in fact begin graduate school, studying psychology in the hopes of having something to offer the many children of Matamoros who have been witnesses to the unspeakable, and who need someone to help them heal.
We move from May into the summer and an election season. There are those amongst us who wish to experience “the very best” and there are those amongst us who wish to help to heal others. They would like a chance to take shot on goal, and they are waiting to see if there is someone out there who would offer them that chance. In the meantime, J.J. and A.B. and Claudia recalculate the course of their lives, watching and waiting yet another setback—or a chance to score.



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