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At the end of the each academic year we ask the typical questions about how well we did. High school graduates?  170 for a total or almost 1600 since our first graduating class back in 2002.  Percentage of graduates going to college?  About 85% as has been our history for 14 years.  College Scholarships?  Over $7 million dollars including nearly 40 seniors receiving Phoenix Pact funds.

These metrics are one way to think about what we did for our students.  Another way to size up this year is to think about what our kids did for us.  “Unbuto” is a South African idea which states that a person is a person through other people. We come to our own rich, robust humanity only through engaging other humans.

How did our NLCP students enrich our humanity?  How did our beautiful rambunctious adolescents deepen our personhood?  It is one of the great gifts of teaching, this understanding of how we come to be us, through our kids.

Watching our seniors come up to receive their diplomas always deepens my sense of wonder.  Who could have predicted 4 years ago that so many of our unformed knuckle-headed freshmen would grow into such interesting young adults?

After 30 years of working with kids, I hope I am more humble.  I find I know next to nothing about how trauma affects our students and how, child by child, to offer them the best instruction and patient love I have in me.

I complain less (you are most welcome to fact check with my wife).  On any given day, my biggest challenges are insignificant compared to what our young Phoenix handle every day.

I long for peace.  We have worked so hard at teaching our kids to be peacemakers.  Whether they are in the middle of our halls or in a gym after a testosterone laden first punch has been thrown, peace-making is HARD grindy work.   It may be the most important thing NLCP teaches again, and again and again.

I am funnier.  Our kids make me howl with laughter.  I think they like us when we are funnier.  It is like when they learn our first names.  It makes us more accessible.

I am so thankful for all of you.  Time is not the only irreplaceable resource.  Wise, skilled, committed staff are too. We cannot do this hard essential work without each other.

So now that our kids have helped us deepen our robust humanity, we need to REST than humanity.  Here’s to good novels, great barbeque, long naps and spending time with loved ones.


John Horan