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Lincoln-West High School Senior Recognition Day; Screening of "Dream On" by the Wesltlake Democratic Club

On Tuesday, May 17th, we helped the Friends of Lincoln-West set up and serve a luncheon at Senior Recognition IMG_1184Day at Lincoln-West High School.

Together with Mr. Michael Cook, Mr. Hans Holznagel, Ms. Kate Carden, Ms. Hilda Abreu, and Ms. Sandra Del Vallewe laid out tablecloths and balloons in the upstairs cafeteria before we sent downstairs to watch the senior recognition ceremonies in which Ms. Andrea Miller, 11th and 12th grade principal handed out awards and citations to the graduating seniors with the help of Ms. Patricia Henry, Guidance Counselor, and Ms. Anastasia Zolensky, Senior Class Advisor.

"Congratulations," said Ms. Miller to the seniors, "I know that you've come a long way and overcome a lot of obstacles." Ms. Miller told us that in 2016 131 students will graduate comprising 83% of the senior class. This IMG_1169significantly above the district average of 75%.

At the ceremonies all kinds of awards were given. Some were humorous like "best smile," "best dancer," "cutest couple," and "teacher's pet." There were also very serious ones like "best Chinese scholar," "highest grade ESL," "highest grade multicultural studies," and "outstanding student in perseverance."

One award winner was Mr. Nelson Cintron, Jr. who we last saw at his father's birthday party in April. He recognized us and walked over to say hello.

We also got to speak with the class valedictorian, Ms. Jackeline Valladares who will be attending Ohio State University in Columbus this fall. She is undecided about her major at this point but believes that it will be in the field of health. Due to her hard work, Ms. Valladares has been awarded $150,000.00 in scholarships.

All told, the 2016 graduating seniors of Lincoln-West High School will receive a total of $300,000.00 in scholarships.

Awards for "student excellence" were also handed out and two of the more poignant recipients were Ms. Rachel Pestak and Ms. Dominique Toney, both physically challenged and both proud and happy.

During the course of the ceremonies, the Friends of Lincoln-West High School were recognized for their contributions. "We are a little community of adults who believe in you," said Mr. Holznagel who is our chairperson. IMG_1177After the ceremonies, we returned to the cafeteria where we helped serve a luncheon composed of Mexican food to the students. As Mr. Holznagel wrote in a memo to us, the purpose for the luncheon was "to ensure that there's at least one moment when every senior feels celebrated-whether or not anyone else comes to a commencement with IMG_1179them or throws them a graduation party."

Courtesy of Mr. Josh Hsu, Friends of Lincoln-West also distributed 50 tickets to that evening's Cleveland-Cincinnati major league baseball game.

On Wednesday, May 25th the students will have their commencement ceremony at the Cleveland Masonic Temple. We are honored to say that due to a contribution by Margaret W. Wong and Associates, the graduates will be given portfolios with the Lincoln-West High School logo stamped upon them. We hope that things work out so we can attend.

We still had another event to attend that day. We had received a notice from the Westlake Democratic Club that a film would be screened at its meeting that evening titled, "Dream On" in which Mr. John Fugelsang, a comedian, "retraces the journey of Alexis de Tocqueville, whose study of our young country in 1831 came to define America as a place where anyone could climb the ladder of economic opportunity. It explores whether the optimistic spirit of the American Dream that Tocqueville observed is alive and well in the 21st century."

To us, this sounded interesting so we decided to attend. The film which was made in 2013 consisted of Mr. Fugelsang visiting such places as Newport, Rhode Island; Boston, Massachusetts; Harlem, New York; Goldsboro, North Carolina; Atlanta, Georgia; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Detroit, Michigan. At each stop, he interviewed people who were struggling, in tough economic times, to achieve the "American Dream" which one interviewee described as "working hard, living by the rules, and having a decent life."

One person that Mr. Fugelsang talked to was an undocumented teenager who came here with his family from Honduras when he was still a child. It took them three tries to make it here to the United States but they finally succeeded. The young man talked about his dream to be a doctor and how frustrated he was that his undocumented status was keeping him from attending college. He was about to return to Honduras but he changed his mind after President Obama issued his DACA executive action. Nevertheless, he was tired of living in the shadows and fearing the police so he decided to "come out" about his status and became an advocate for those in similar positions. Mr. Fugelsang also talked to the young man's father who was proud of his son.

Another interviewee, was Ms. Veronika Scott who founded "The Empowerment Plan" in Detroit whose mission is to "educate, employ, and empower homeless individuals to create a better life for themselves and their families while producing a humanitarian product for those in need" which are beautiful warm coats. When asked if this venture had changed her concept of the American Dream, Ms. Scott, who comes from a family of Polish immigrants, said that it had indeed. She believed that in addition to being prosperous, she would define the American Dream as engaging in work that really made a difference in the lives of others.

Mr. Fugelsang ended on an optimistic note as he said that even though things might not look so good for many people he talked to at this time, they still made use of all resources available to them to try to move forward and were by no means giving up. As de Tocqueville wrote, "no Americans are devoid of a desire to rise..." Accordingly, Mr. Fugelsang believed that this could be said about all people, no matter where they happened to live.


Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC.

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