Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Dropout (05/12/11)
TITLE: Droppin’ Out and Movin’ On
By Perry F. Louden, Jr
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During Butch’s Freshman and Sophomore years, he worked a full time job in a restaurant. By his Junior year, he was working more and more hours and studying less and less, and that English class became his down fall. During the 1st six weeks, he got a grade of 33% because he often slept through class and never turned in his work. He immediately realized what the implications were of failing English for the year. Since he was already one year older than his peers, he would be a 20 year old graduate. Through hard work and being persistent, Butch was able to pull his grade up to an 85% for the 2nd six weeks. However, during the 3rd six weeks he slacked off. His average for the semester was 65%.
In December, Butch turned 18 years old. Then January came and Butch missed several days of school. Soon he came to the realization that his high school experience was over, he was going to be a high school dropout. As he went around to each teacher with his withdrawal papers, he felt like a failure believing that his future was now limited. Most teachers didn’t say anything, but some did try to say something to try to minimize the experience. The economics teacher made a statement that had a profound impact on Butch: “If you dropout, you will never make anything of your life.” Ouch! Butch didn’t say anything as the words hung in the air, but he was sure feeling pretty low.
Proving that teacher to be a false prophet became a deep desire for Butch. Those words have endured in his mind for the past 25 years and have been his battle cry to adapt and overcome whatever circumstance he found himself in.
Butch continued to work hard and turned his life around. He got his GED that next summer, and enrolled at the local community college. By the end of the year, he had earned 9 college credits which allowed him to enlist in the U.S. Army Reserve. He continued in school earning multiple degrees and currently holds a position comparable to that false prophesying economics teacher. He also retired from the Army Reserve which is something that the economics teacher never did.
Encouraging others to improve their lives and helping them to reach their full potential is the joy of Butch’s life now. There are many reasons why a student must drop out of school, but this should never be seen as a limit to their future. No, it should be seen as an opportunity to overcome the odds and popular stereotypes. After all what do Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, Dave Thomas, George Bernard Shaw, Richard Pryor, Peter Jennings, Rosa Parks, and Billy Joel all have in common? They were dropouts like Butch and millions of others.
Not all dropouts will someday be rich or famous though. However, they just need to succeed at what they love and work to bring joy and happiness to all of those around them. The next time you hear about someone who has dropped out of school, support and encourage them, and help them succeed in life. Regardless of setbacks and happenstances, sometimes dropping out is just a way to break out of the old and into the new.
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