As high school graduation season in Utah approaches, it is important to recognize the people who helped students navigate the gantlet known as high school — the teachers and counselors.
Our teachers and counselors have shown remarkable dedication in helping their students succeed. From staying after school for hours and volunteering time for weekend extracurriculars, to providing individualized attention when we students needed it, teachers and counselors have been there for us.
As the school bell rings and the exodus of students announces the end of the school day, many teachers stay behind for consulting. Our chemistry and computer science teachers were always available after school for over two hours each day to meet with students who have questions, help them catch up with any late work, and prepare them for tests. They have helped us expand our interest in engineering.
Our economics teacher made the concepts of economics come alive, explaining them at a high school level and making them fun and engaging. His explanation of the complex concepts of the stock market sparked our interest in pursuing a dual degree in finance and engineering in college.
Our art history teacher put in many extra hours including holding Saturday reviews and study sessions for the class to ensure students were prepared for the AP and IB tests. We have to admit that after we took her class, she turned us into amateur art lovers who actually could appreciate art in museums. She was so excited when we sent her a picture of us standing next to Thomas Cole’s “The Oxbow” at the Met.
Our teachers were at tournaments, even on the weekends, supporting the students in their endeavors, consoling us when we lost and celebrating with us when we won. We remember how we were severely underprepared for a national qualifier debate tournament. To help us, our debate teacher stayed after school until 6 in the evening helping us practice and prepare.
In our Future Business Leaders of America club meetings held after school, the adviser purchased food so we would not be hungry during meetings. These were not isolated incidents but were seen with most clubs. Even though they are not evaluated on extracurricular successes, teachers put as much dedication into these extracurriculars and into the students’ successes as the students do themselves.
Teachers and counselors invest their time into students’ success, no matter what form this takes. Counselors and teachers act as surrogates to parents in the school building. Their efforts extend far beyond traditional teaching, leaving a permanent impression on us. Teachers’ classrooms and counselors’ offices become safe spaces for students. Many times, we have seen students turn to their trusted teachers as the first adults to discuss personal challenges or express their angst. Perhaps this is a reason that adults remember the teachers who most affected their lives.
As graduation day approaches, many students will be thinking of the colleges that they will be attending and the end-of-year tests that they will have to take. Group pictures will be taken, and graduation gowns will be ordered. Many will think of the dress they will be wearing, while parents will be planning graduation celebrations.
As kids walk up the stage to receive a piece of parchment that attests to their work, the unsung heroes and Utah’s treasure will be in the audience, watching with pride their pupils walk across the stage, wondering what the future holds for them.
Thank you, Skyline teachers. You made us who we are.
Kanishka Ragula and Vikrant Ragula are students at Skyline High School.