Cecilia comes home at midnight with dark circles around her eyes like sunken asphalt. Up since 5:30 a.m. because school starts at 7:15. At home, sits her senior exhibition binder with a collection of awards and projects that stand witness to her determination and relentless work. A resume details a list of accomplishments she has been promised will get her to college: 3.8 G.P.A., countless hours of community service, ASB treasurer, soccer team captain, AP courses, and AVID.
Her mother and father came to this country to give her a better life. Her hopes are cradled in her mother’s hands, abrasive, with the lingering smell of bleach from the endless bathrooms she scrubs. Hands that softly caress her face, when her mother finds the courage to tell Cecilia that her father has been deported.
Her eyes sink even further as she confronts the reality that her father will not see her soar like a raven across the graduation stage. Her absences are accumulating. She has to work more so her mother can pay the rent. She only needs one more credit to complete her graduation requirements, but her counselor insists she has to continue to attend two art classes and JROTC. He’s interested in graduation rates and school attendance; she needs someone to give her a chance, to believe in her so much, they are willing to fight with her.
In a system so inflexible, how can a young lady like Cecilia succeed? Cecilia is more than the money the school receives for her full-day attendance. She is our child, and she cradles the hope of our world in her hands.