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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Whispers (01/26/04)

TITLE: Alenas Award
By Annette Bury


My husband, Bob and I walked across the parking lot, enjoying the warm sunshine of a beautiful spring day. Strolling through the doorway of the auditorium, my ears filled with the commotion of people chattering, feet shuffling, and chairs scooting. Bob walked in behind me.

“Mr. and Mrs. Bury, over here.” Ms. Morton,* my daughter Alena’s teacher, waved her right hand. Waving back, we made our way to the front.

As we approached, Ms. Morton pointed to two chairs. “I saved you both a seat, and I’m so glad you were able to come. Alena is really excited about graduating from fifth-grade.”

I smiled. “Ms. Morton, thank you for all your hard work with Alena, especially with her math and reading skills. She’s come so far in your class.”

“Mrs. Bury, it’s been such a pleasure to have her in my class. Alena’s such a sweet and kind young lady.” She glanced at her watch. “Oh, I don’t mean to cut this short, but we’re going to get started.”

We plopped down in our saved seats as my heart pounded.

My mind reeled back to when we adopted Alena, at almost eleven-years-old, from Russia. Since she didn’t speak English, I opted for her to attend school half-a-day, and I home-schooled her the other half. But I quickly discovered gaps in her learning. The longer I worked with her, the more my concern’s heightened. So, I consented to the IQ test, but never expected the outcome –A below normal IQ. The school administrators advised us to move Alena into Ms. Morton’s class – a self-contained classroom for children with challenges.

My mind jolted back to reality as the school principal, Mr. Brock,* began the ceremony by thanking the teachers, administrators, and staff. I sat up straighter as I heard Mr. Brock announce, “At this time, I’d like to invite Ms. Morton up on the stage to present her diplomas.”

Ms. Morton mounted the stairs and stood on the stage. “Parents, grandparents, and friends, thank you for coming to share this day with your graduates. Students, as I call your name, please come forward for your certificate and present the speech you’ve prepared.”

I gulped. “Bob, Alena has a speech!”

Bob shrugged.

As Alena stood up and climbed the stairs, my heart skipped a beat.

“Alena, here’s your certificate for completing fifth-grade.” Alena reached out and grasped the rolled up sheet of paper, tied with a large ribbon. “And Alena I have another award for you. This award is for Outstanding Educational Improvement. It's being given to you because you've worked so hard, and despite the odds, you've made tremendous progress. It’s not only signed by our principal, Mr. Brock, but the President of the United States.”

I gasped. “Alena, is receiving this award!”

Mrs. Morton continued, “Alena are you ready for your speech?”

Alena nodded as she took the microphone. “Dear Mom and Dad, Thank you for bringing me from Russia. I have lots of food and money, and you love me so much. I will try to take good care of you and help out at home. Thank you for doing everything for me. I will love you both forever. I have fun with the whole family.” She looked at us as she handed the microphone back. I brushed the tears from my cheeks and glanced at Bob. Taking off his glasses, he wiped his eyes with his sleeve.

The remainder of the ceremony continued, but I sat in awe. My beautiful, special daughter had been given a prestigious award.

Bob whispered to me, “Alena will continue to work hard, and she’ll continue to surprise us all.”

I nodded. “Yes, with the Lord’s help, all things are possible.”

*Name changed

Member Comments
Member Date
Corinne Smelker 02/02/04
I had to wipe a tear too! Excellent work.
Christine Rhee02/03/04
Wow!! What a special daughter!!
Violet Nesdoly02/03/04
Annette, beautiful story. You'll have to put together and publish a little book of these family vignettes - they make wonderful reading!
Donna Anderson02/04/04
sigh....it's so hard to get any house work done when I know there are stories in here like this to read! This is sweet. Thank you!
L.M. Lee02/06/04
what a beautiful story.