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Commentary: Graduation speeches of troubled teens reveal true needs

LA School Report | June 2, 2015

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By Sandy Banks

When I was asked to speak at the Aviva High graduation, my marching orders were clear: Offer a little wisdom and loads of encouragement. These girls had been through a lot.

There were only five students in the graduating class. One didn’t show up.

Aviva educates teenage girls who need emotional or behavioral support. The ceremony was held in Hollywood, at Temple Israel. In the audience, a smattering of family members sat in folding chairs alongside teachers, counselors and friends.

I took the stage and spoke about the typical commencement ideals: Face your fears, trust your heart, don’t give up easily.

Then each girl walked up to get her diploma and deliver her own graduation speech. I realized how inadequate my bromides had been.

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