David Isom is the president of the Fairfield-Suisun School District governing board. He is also the Rev. David Isom, senior pastor at St. Stephen CME Church on Union Avenue in Fairfield.
The Rev. David Isom invited me to a special graduation of young people: thirty-two students who had taken their summer to learn algebra by attending the 2014 California State University Algebra Institute.
St. Stephen was one of 50 of the math programs across the state. I didn’t know that. I’ll bet you didn’t, either.
Graduates of the program are tracked for their performance the following year. The St. Stephen students from 2013 showed more performance improvement than any other in the programs across the state.
John Taylor and Lorraine Merrida Roos were instructors this year. Cynthia Phillips was the program coordinator. Ann Davis was the program administrator. Alfred Fairley and Tiffany Tramel were tutors. St. Stephen staff, parents and student families provided great support as well.
Suisun City Vice Mayor Lori Wilson was guest speaker for the ceremonies and her message was inspirational.
Who are these 32 young people who sacrificed their summer vacations for future success? I don’t know them personally but I am proud of each of them anyway. They are:
Nyrin Lamar Amey Jr., Anya Barnett, Ryan Jayon Barnett, David Belcher, Justin Bennett, Randy Clayton, DeLanae’ N. Couther, Sahil Dadhwal, Miena R. Davis, Odarria Featherstone, Teiano Hardee, Alyia Sarah Hunter, Antonine Scott Hunter, O’Shay LaForcarde, Antoinette Latrice Johnson, Darion Johnson, Aaron Zuan Jones, Mekhi Little, Sanskar Malhotra, Moises J. Marroquin, Tay Martin, Jalen Joseph Moore, Omari Polk, Jasmine Reed, Nia Tolbert, Nya Tramel, Casara L. Vaughn, Kayla Vaughn, Aayush Wadhera, Genesis Williams, Jonathon Williams and Justin Word.
All 32 are winners!
I have had a chance to reflect on the graduation program at St. Stephen. What I heard was the result of lessons which, in some respects, were more enduring than learning algebra: the idea that nothing can be accomplished without trying, and that, if you try, you can succeed.
An important part of the graduation ceremonies were statements reaffirming this idea by each of the graduating students. It was “I Can.” The benefit of this lesson can be applied to every aspect of those students’ lives.
A second important element of the program was called “Timelines.” It was a detailed description of the history of every person beginning some 20,000 years ago. The early beginnings are, in fact, the history of every person in the world. The students at St. Stephen are fortunate to now have some perspective on how they came to be. Very few folks in the world share that perspective. I am now more aware of my beginnings, too.
I wish all of you could have been there with me.
I hope David will invite me to next year’s graduation. I learned a lot and enjoyed the fellowship with staff, parents and grandparents. Maybe next year I will actually meet some of the students, instead of just being an observer.
Reach Murray Bass at 427-0744 or firstname.lastname@example.org.