|Vol. 15 No. 11
JUNE 1, 2020
Columns & Features
by Heidi M. Pascual
by Jamala Rogers
Like everything else in the COVID-19 pandemic era — I’m almost sick of typing COVID-19 over and over
again — our spring graduation season has been too strange for words.
It is usually a joyous and energetic time with many graduation ceremonies and parties. Normally, I would
The African Association of Madison and American Indian Alaskan Native graduation ceremonies were always.
The African Association of Madison and American Indian Alaskan Native graduation ceremonies were always inspirational to attend. Each of them would have their
own cultural flourishes to celebrate the students’ achievements and they really unscored the fact that it takes a village to raise a child. In the African and American
Indian communities, academic achievement is a community thing. While there was an American Indian virtual ceremony, it can’t take the place of the real thing with
the drummers singing an honor song as the students stand near-by. This year, there were only empty halls where these celebrations were traditionally held.
The Boys & Girls Club and Madison Metropolitan School District always celebrated the AVID/TOPS high school graduates with a “National Signing Day” ceremony
at Gordon Dining on the UW campus or another location. The students would publically declare which college they had decided to attend in the fall. And of course
there would be the group photos and the emotion of the moment. Gordon Dining is shuttered and there has been no laughter and cheers for the graduates. It is silent.
I always enjoyed the in-person interviews with graduates from UW-Madison, Edgewood College and Madison College. In person, you get a sense of their
accomplishment and relief and sometimes a tear as they realize they won’t be seeing a lot of the people they went to college with again. There is the eye contact and
body language that always add to the understanding of the story.
And while I was still able to do stories on the graduates, our photos were always taken at least six feet away and sometimes more. And we took them in front of
campus buildings that would normally be brimming with people and graduation excitement. But there are only buildings that surround the graduates. Without people,
they are merely slabs of granite, stone and steel. The campus buildings look lost as if they have lost their reason to be — and they had.
And then what really broke my heart was compiling the Hues Row of Excellence. I think this was my 25th year of highlighting the graduating seniors of color in
Dane County, first with The Madison Times and then at The Capital City Hues. I’ve lost track of the number much like people have lost track of time under COVID-
Again there was a lot of energy and sometimes chaos going to area high schools taking photos of the students while they are called down to a room by the
multicultural services coordinators and guidance counselors. In the matter of an hour or two, we would have taken the photos of 40-60 students per school with
other outlying high schools like DeForest mailing theirs in. You can get a sense for who students are by taking their photos and it makes it much easier to write a
paragraph about them based on the information they shared. -- READ MORE
by Jamala Rogers
go to the UW-Madison PEOPLE Program and CeO graduation celebrations where we would take group photos and it was always so
inspirational to hear the students’ stories about the opportunities they had and the challenges they overcame. And they profusely thanked staff,
friends and family for giving them the support they needed to overcome and cross the finish line. There was none of that this Year.
|Celebrating the Academic Achievement of
Students of Color in Dane County
HUES' ROW OF EXCELLENCE