Vol. 12    No. 11
May 29, 2017
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                                                  Sweet Graduations!
The Struggle to Success
Celebrating the Success of the Class of 2017
I have come to appreciate the graduation season has a king of unofficial roaming national holiday. The graduations begin down south and then
roam to the north as April turns to May, kind of like the flowers along the Interstate would always come out several weeks earlier in Mississippi
when I went to school there and the greenery and flowers would eventually make their way up to Madison.

And graduations are like a rebirth where we all have hope for the future of the human race because of all of the incredibly talented and educated
youth coming out of our high schools and colleges. We can all hope, if even just for a minute until the newest outrageous act by our president.

Now I am a man and I have never directly had the experience — although I can almost still feel my ex-wife’s penetrating nails in my arm as she
experienced her contractions giving birth to my son — but I can’t help but feel that putting this graduation issue out is like having a baby. It’s a
long time in developing. During the height of it, I swear that I will never do another one again because it is painful and time consuming. And then
the paper comes back from the printer, I look at it and exclaim, “What a beautiful baby!” And then I tend to get amnesia, forgetting the pains I
endured putting it together until I start the whole process all over again the next year.
And in my own humble opinion, it is a beautiful baby. What parent doesn’t feel that way? And it is all worthwhile.

When I started The Hues Row of Excellence back in 2006 when The Capital City Hues came into existence, I think we had roughly 60-70 students
in it. It was relatively manageable and could easily fit into a special section that also contained some of our other graduation features.
But over the years — this is our 12th year of printing this — the number of students has grown and grown and the number of features and display
ads in the special section has declined.
Well this year, we have a little over 330 seniors of color from around Dane County who are graduating with a 3.0 GPA or above participating in
this year’s edition. The number has grown approximately five times in the intervening 12 years.

Part of that growth is due to the fact that the school staff and I have learned how to collaborate to get this done in an efficient way, such as me
going out to the schools and taking photos while the students complete their forms. Second, when the school personnel believe in the Hues Row
of Excellence and tell the students they should participate, the number of students goes up tremendously.

Another factor is that the number of students of color who are graduating with a 3.0 GPA or greater is growing as well in part because the fastest
growing student populations are those from communities of color.

And there has been particular growth in the suburban schools. At schools that I used to get a handful of students, I now get 30-40 students.
I am happy to say that La Follette High School and West High School each hit the 80 student mark this year for the first time. That’s a whole lot of

And it’s a lot more work too. Our special 16-page color section can’t hold all of the students anymore. We had to place the last three pages of The
Hues Row of Excellence as the first three pages of the regular part of The Hues. I am starting to run out of color pages, but that is a good dilemma
to have. Who knows how many there will be next year. Come on students! Achieve, achieve, achieve!

For the past 14 years, I have been teaching in the UW PEOPLE Program’s three-week summer workshop session. I teach a course called
Exploring College Through Media. I take my students on tours to workplaces that feature occupations reliant upon STEM. We used to go to Oscar
Mayer before it closed and go to MG&E, the UW School of Medicine & Public Health and are now going to Thermo Fischer this year.

My students take photos and write stories and we publish them in our very own newspaper, The Diversity Times, and circulate them to the rest of
the middle school PEOPLE students.
Anyway, at the beginning of the three-week session, I give them all a copy of this graduation issue and pull out The Hues Row of Excellence. I tell
them that I want to be able to write about them when they are graduating high school seniors. And sure enough, there is always 3-5 of my former
students in each Hues Row of Excellence. That’s a cool feeling. While I had little, overall, to do with them achieving what they have achieved, it is
wonderful to see them make it through the gauntlet of middle school and high school relatively intact. I am always very happy for them.

And as I go around to the various high schools and read what the students have done and what they want to do with their lives, and as I go to the
various college graduation events and interview individual graduates, you can get a sense of emerging trends coming about.

I remember when Watergate was happening in the early 1970s and Woodward and Bernstein, the reports from the Washington Post were exposing
the corruption of the Nixon administration, that everyone, it seemed, wanted to become an investigative journalist. And investigative journalism
came to the fore in the 1980s-1990s.

Well I’ve been hearing a lot of students, particularly Latino students, say that they aspire to become immigration attorneys. I can’t help but feel this
is in response to the relative lack of progress on immigration reform during the Obama administration and the rise in deportations and the threat of
deportations under the Trump administration. To every action, there is a reaction. And I think in the next decade, we will see a whole new army of
immigration lawyers come to the fore and turn the tide toward immigration reform.

It is a social movement that is happening now.
Special Annual Feature in our
Graduation Issue: