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The national high school graduate rate has hit a record high at 81.4 percent, but a number of students and communities must be reached to continue that growth. Today’s global economy demands a more educated workforce, requiring more students to graduate from high school prepared for post-secondary education and career.Public media is helping local communities keep more students on the path to a high school diploma, college & successful careers.WSKG is a proud community hub station of American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen! Check back often for local Education news reports, media produced by teens from our area, and opportunities to get involved!

Teen Thanks Mom for Strength, Guidance, and Education

Champions go by many titles: teacher, coach, neighbor, friend, boss, classmate, or parent… Just to name a few! As part of WSKG’s program on graduation, we asked students to tell us about the person, place, or program that helps them find successful in school. 

Jordan Ballard's powerful poem shares her experience with self-harm, anxiety, and suicide all to thank one person: her mom.

Jordan is working toward her high school diploma from EverTech Academy at Broome Tioga BOCES in Binghamton, NY. She is studying Business Management in the Center for Career & Technical Excellence. After graduation, Jordan plans to enter the workforce and attend college for music. *Please be advised of the sensitive nature of this story. This piece discusses one teen’s struggle with suicide and self-harm.

 Submitted by Jordan Ballard:It’s been a long journey, We have not left one stone unturned. We took the back road, The one with all the scenery, Even if the scenery is just off-white walls of hospital rooms, Or the room in the psychiatric emergency program with the single light on, and the ceiling with the clouds, The only beautiful sky we have seen throughout these six years, One I have seen too many times.

You would hold my hand through thick and thin, You weren’t just my mom, You were my god, The one who instilled me with power. Even with the scars that are across my wrists, You still held my hand as you guided me through this road. I never would have saw the light of day if you didn’t pull me out of my bed, Where I lived in sorrow and hopelessness, Sleeping as the days and nights were passing around me. You held me close as I felt my sanity crumbling around me, With all the anxiety, The scratching of my skin in complete panic, As anxiety pulled my hair, And the only thing I could feel were the tears rolling down my cheek.

You were strong, Stronger than anyone I’ve ever seen. All the times you saw me up at 3 AM, crying as if that’s all I could do to live. And you would sit at our kitchen table, Smoking your cigarette as if that’s all YOU could do to stay stable.

I could’ve never made it, Made it this far, With my honor roll GPA, And my support from the one who was always in my corner, As I fought the depression with closed fists.

And now, those days are never missed. I may not always say the right words, But you helped me make it this far. And now I’m graduating, When school was never in my plans.

I guess what I’m trying to say is… Thank you.

My champion is my mom.


Sharing Student Voices

Jordan's poem was a selected submission from  Who’s Your Champion? community callout. Her story is part of a collection of student reflections celebrating the individuals who provide endless help, support, and encouragement along the challenging path to high school graduation.Thanks for sharing your story, Jordan, and honoring your mom. Your bravery is inspiring. Keep that strength and that honor roll GPA, and we know you will continue to experience success! 

More Champion Stories

Learn about the individuals and programs supporting students across Upstate New York. These featured champions were nominated by community members or honored by students from EverTech Academy at Broome Tioga BOCES.  American Graduate is made possible by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.