For years, the odds were stacked against them. They suffered from emotional disorders. Addictions to crack from birth. Constant upheaval in their lives. They were "throwaway kids." Or at least they could have been.
Instead, they are high school graduates — and destined for much more. Ladarious Jackson, once the troublesome sixth-grader whose disability rendered him among the worst at Marchman Technical Education Center, plans to attend college. Alexis and Alesia Jackson, twins whose first days of life were spent shaking and crying because of drug withdrawals, will bring college credits to their first day at Howard University in Washington. Sergio Velazquez, whose family yanked him in and out of schools in New York and Florida, will attend Saint Leo University on a full scholarship. At his graduation, his mother told him, "You did it without me."
But he did not do it alone. As he and other bright young stars who overcame adversity can attest, there are helping hands — an inspired foster parent turned full-time mom, an adult mentor or an organization willing to meet them halfway. For every success story, there is a sad tale of a young man who was given every break, only to squander it and wind up in prison — or worse. But these stories chronicled in recent days by Times' writers are inspiring testaments to the resiliency and determination of so many teens who overcame adversity and are poised for even greater successes.
This season of high school graduations offers a moment to look beyond the tragedies that so often dominate the news and celebrate the quiet victories of those who overcame the odds with the help of others.