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Today I saw one of my former junior high school students while Christmas shopping. I recognized his sister first, then his mother, then my student following behind. They were moving purposefully and I was standing in line for the register, so they didn’t see me and there was no opportunity to chat.

My former student should be a high school senior this year if he is still in school. He is strikingly handsome in that debonaire way of so many Latino young men. He was holding hands with a beautiful teenaged girl as they lagged behind his mother. How long will it be before they are parents?

I wonder what is happening in his life. A reluctant student in junior high, his main goal was to hang out with the “cool” crowd…instead, he tagged along behind the cool guys like a small puppy. He was beginning to mess with pot and alcohol, trying to impress them. By the end of eighth grade he was starting to make some progress with reading, but didn’t want to admit it. I hope high school and his desperate need to fit in didn’t overwhelm him.

In our valley there are so many boys like this…farm workers’ children whose parents have high hopes for them but few resources to help them achieve them. Each one takes a bit of my heart with him.