“That we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, for all that we love deeply becomes part of us.”
– Helen Keller
The end of the school year has arrived and the Gwinn High School seniors took their long-awaited walk across the stage yesterday and accepted their diplomas. As a teacher this is a bittersweet time of the year as I feel a crushing wave of emotions overtake me. While I am immensely filled with pride, I will miss so many of the seniors dearly.
Austin LeMoine is one of those students. I distinctly remember Austin entering my 9th grade English classroom. He had a spark for creativity and I will never forget the canvas he hauled into class for a visual aide. It was a painting of Medusa that he crafted for his Greek mythology presentation. Over the past four years I have watched as Austin took brave and courageous steps to let his voice be heard. He is still a sweet, and sometimes shy boy, but he is also fiercely loyal and determined. In July, Austin will begin taking courses at The Art Institute of Chicago. I eagerly await to see the projects he works on and the instrument of change that his art will become. He is extremely talented and his visual art and writing shines with brilliance.
Last year, Austin created a digital poem in memory of his cousin Olivia. Olivia LeMoine was a senior at Marquette High School when she passed away.
Austin said this about his video:
“This video was created last spring for an assignment, but it quickly turned into a memorial for my late cousin, Olivia LeMoine. In February of last year she suddenly passed, so making this digital story was hard, but definitely necessary. It helped me grieve and understand what I was feeling. My best friend helped me film the different segments and was a big help during the difficult time. I wrote the poem about my cousin when she first passed and eventually turned it into this video. When I shared it with my family they loved it and I was glad I could create something that they all loved. We miss Olivia every day, but it does get a little easier as time passes.”
I got to thinking that Memorial Day was a fitting day to share Austin’s tribute. Though, as we all know, when we lose someone we love — every day is Memorial Day. Austin and his family are in my thoughts and I hope that Austin’s digital poem continues to promote healing.
Austin, thank you for teaching me so many lessons throughout the years and thank you for letting me share this story with others. I love you, Austin. Best of luck as you continue to reach for your dreams.