From one generation to another…..

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By Jo Frohwein

My students, 

I am at a loss of words for what you will miss this year. I am missing you my students. As a first generation high school graduate, college graduate, and master’s graduate, I know the importance of education for each and every one of you. I also know the importance of the firsts. 

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I got into the field of education for a multitude of reasons, but one of the them is first and foremost in my heart. I wanted an opportunity to tell first generation students that there was someone in their corner rooting for them. I also wanted to be an example of what can be achieved. 

I love my job working with mostly seniors at Marshalltown High School. I attend graduation every year and try to attend as many of the graduation open houses as possible. I also go to prom as a chaperone to see my students celebrate, and support athletic and arts firsts celebrating all that is achieved by our students, many of whom are first generation graduates. 

This year is different, I know that many of you are heartbroken at what is lost. Many are saddened by the firsts that simply won’t happen… Let me assure you, you are in a class of supporting each other, through storms, heartaches, tragedies, and pandemics. 

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You are in a class that will be so memorable by the situation at hand. Whether you are graduating from college or high school, you are graduating. You are graduating under circumstances that are beyond your control. You are graduating because you have put in the work and stood up with resilience despite the fact that your world has been turned upside down.  Many of you have not only supported yourselves, you have held the hand of another. You have weathered the ups and downs standing together and not alone. 

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You my friends at the end of this will move into a class of support that welcomes you with open arms. You will move into the group of Latinos and Latinas who can say they did it. Everyone who is part of this esteemed group is there despite having people doubt them, despite perhaps having to work full time as they went to school, despite all the roadblocks and obstacles that stood in their way. Your graduation is your ticket in. You have risen above everything and achieved just like those that were inducted to this group before you. 

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Your work is not over though, in moments when you are looking at the lost events or activities remember there is a next generation that is looking at you, admiring you for accomplishing so much in such a difficult time. Take a moment to extend a hand to the next generation and tell them if you can do so can they. Help to hold them up when they are down and show them that there is strength in numbers. Together we can do anything that is our strength. Be proud of your heritage and where you come from, for we are a force together. 

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Welcome to the group of Latinos and Latinas that looked at education and conquered that beast!

One of the most frequently seen faces at MHS is one of our Administrative Assistants, Tonya Hernandez, her words of wisdom to seniors is this:

As we close the year in an untraditional way, please remember that you are full of strength and are able to persevere in many diverse situations. Two years ago a tornado hit our community and with perseverance, you made it through. Do not let this pandemic define your Senior year. Carry with you the memories, friendships, and accomplishments you have accrued since your first day of school. Celebrate you today and everyday – forever.  Make your future shine as bright as we have watched you shine for all of your high school career. Look diversity in the face and show it that you will come out on top, again. 

Remember this: ” You are not lucky to be here. The world needs your perspective. They are lucky to have you.” ~ Antonio Tijerino (President and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation)

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