Many of the 1,785 or so Berkeley County high school students who will graduate over the next couple days have stories to tell.
Some are graduating early, eager to move on to the next phase of their lives. Others have overcome such obstacles as life-threatening illnesses or the death of a loved one.
For Jarrod Harrison of Moncks Corner, being a part of Cane Bay High School’s Class of 2012 is an accomplishment in itself.
When school started nine months ago, Jarrod had accumulated only half of the 24 credits required to graduate from high school in South Carolina.
But he was haunted by something his mother had said to him six years ago.
“She told me the day I left her house, ‘You’ll get nowhere in life. You’ll drop out of high school and be just like me,’?” said Jarrod, 18. “I stood close to her face that day and I said, ‘You deserve what you get, but I’ll be the one standing in the end.’?”
Jarrod has been in foster care since he was 12, living in group homes and with several foster families. He attended three high schools before landing at Cane Bay this year.
“I was very troubled,” he said of his earlier years. “Well, I still am, but less so. I was mischievous. I would yell and be mean. I wouldn’t follow the rules.”
He said he was the student with the bad attitude, the one who would sit in class with his head on the desk, not paying attention and not doing his work.
But somehow, things clicked for him when he started at Cane Bay.
“The second day of school, I was talking to the guidance counselor to see what I could do with all my credits,” he said.
“I wanted to graduate this year. It was my top goal, and I would have done anything to get there. I was talking to her and she’s like, ‘We have a few options but you need to be dedicated to it,’ and I said, ‘Oh, I can be dedicated.’?”
He attended Cane Bay by day and Goose Creek High School three nights a week. On other nights he took classes through the South Carolina Virtual School.
After the winter break, he had enough credits that he returned to school as a senior.
Having earned 12 credits this year, he will walk across the stage Saturday night at the North Charleston Coliseum with his Cane Bay classmates.
“He is a strong example of overcoming adversity and persevering to achieve your goals of graduating high school,” said Cane Bay Principal Lee Westberry. “Jarrod proves that you can make mistakes and have life throw you curve balls, but with perseverance, hard work and focus, triumph over adversity can be reached.”
Jarrod has been recognized this year with a Turnaround Achievement Award from the Berkeley County School District and U.S. Rep. Tim Scott’s CAP Award, given to high school seniors in the 1st Congressional District who have overcome personal hardships.
He plans to work this summer, and in August will start classes at Trident Technical College, where he wants to study massage therapy, physical therapy and business.
“I have a different attitude now,” he said. “I want to get a great education. I’m very excited about the future.”
Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or www.facebook.com/brindge.