School curriculum celebrates high school graduates

Fifteen high school students were recently honored as St. Jude The school program celebrated its annual return to high school.

The students graduated from high school this year while undergoing treatment and managing the ongoing pandemic. Each graduate received a unique St. Jude class ring, hats tassels and other gifts.

“Graduating from high school is a unique step because the finish line becomes the starting line,” said James R. Downing, MD, St. Jude President and CEO. “Everything you have learned and experienced so far has made you the special person you are, and we can’t wait to see what awaits you next.”

St. Jude high school teacher Mandy Small explained, “It is truly remarkable to reach this milestone while undergoing treatment and even more while going through the pandemic.”

Little was a teacher at St. Jude for 14 years. She was influenced by her own high school English teacher and wanted to make a difference in the lives of others in the same way. She shared how impressed she is with the students she teaches and all they have achieved despite the odds.

high school teacher Nicole Byford has been with St. Jude during 7 years. She also shared how proud everyone is of the graduates’ accomplishments, especially with the added stress of the pandemic.

“Cancer hasn’t slowed our students down, so how could the pandemic slow us down?” Byford said. “It gave us a way to identify with their own struggles in some ways.”

On the occasion of the graduation ceremony, the director Randy Thompson shared a favorite quote: “You’re braver than you think, stronger than you look, and smarter than you think.” He went on to say that the students demonstrated all three with incredible courage, superhero strength and a genuine love of learning as they accomplish this significant achievement.

“Parents, grandparents, families, teachers and team members, we want to send them a huge thank you for their support along the way,” he said.