At the awards ceremony for my son's Junior High School or Middle School Class, every top academic award was won by Pornchompoo Suwanrut, aged 13, from Thailand. Not only did she finish first in her class, but she won the Governor's Award and numerous other academic awards.
At the awards ceremony, it was announced that not only did these two win every award for their class, but their test scores and grades were the highest for every class in that school for all three years for all the kids attending there every year. These two were very close, with Pornchompoo Suwanrut finishing less than two percentage points ahead of Syed Sarder every year.
(How it must feel to finish just behind a girl every time).
However, the real story as far as I am concerned in that my son Michael won an award at this Junior High School Graduation ceremony.
I never thought my son Michael would amount to anything. He refused to go to school and once in California I was almost arrested because of that. When time came to go to school in the morning, he would usually say "I can't find my shoe" and then he would refuse to look for it. He often missed school. He never ever did his homework. Whenever his teacher tried to send home a note about how bad he was, he would throw it away and it never reached home.
As a result, he was placed in special education, which is usually reserved for retarded kids. He was left back one year, so that by the time of completing the eighth grade, he had just turned 15.
So, when Michael told me that his school was presenting him with an award, I thought he must be joking. Any way, I went to the ceremony just in case he might be telling the truth for a change.
I figured that perhaps they put him in English as a Second Language, even though his only language is English.
But, there he was on stage, being presented with an award by New York City Councilman James Gennaro.
But what did Michael win? That is the funny thing. Michael was given a cash award of $50, in real money, the only kid to receive a monetary award. But for what? He was given the PHYLLIS KAYE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD. But what was that for? After the awards ceremony, I went up to the front and asked. The principal explained that Phyllis Kaye has been teaching in that school for 11 years, so the award was given in her honor. But for what?, I asked persistently. The acting principal then said that it was for general merit.
In other words, it was a sort of general award for somebody who did not win anything else.
I have a theory: Michael entered the eighth grade reading at the first grade reading level. His reading has improved. Now he may be reading at the fifth or six grade level, which is good for a kid graduating from eighth grade. So, he might be getting an award for the most improved student.
Since he was getting a cash prize, unlike any other student, he might be getting an award for most impoverished student. However, there is a reason for that. They probably do not know that Michael has been kidnapped four times. In 1990, Michael was kidnapped by agents of Charles Roberts. In 1991, Michael was kidnapped by Sharon Haberer. In 1991 again, Michael was kidnapped by Sister Theresa Courtney. In 1995, Michael was kidnapped by Rosemonde Pierre-Louis.
Meanwhile, my brother filed five lawsuits against our mother. My ability to locate and help Michael was severely limited. For many years, I could not find him in spite of persistently looking for him.
Still, without me, Michael would never have amounted to much. After all, I am his father!
I asked Michael why, since his school is located in a Black neighborhood, almost none of the kids receiving awards were Black. Michael replied, "Don't say that. They will beat you up." He later explained that most of the top kids in his school are Muslim or Chinese.
Here is the list of kids receiving awards last night. This will also memorialize forever their achievements, as by now all of the official programs have been thrown away: