GRADUATING SENIOR PAUL’S TRANSFORMATION THE HAWK TURNING HURT INTO HOPE SUMMER 2017 My dad’s been in and out of jail all my life. I didn’t even meet him till I was four. When he’s home, he tries to be a good dad, but it’s hard for him. My mom and dad have been married three times to each other and divorced twice. Right now they are married, so between him and my five brothers, things can get pretty crazy at home. In junior high, I got to be a pretty good fighter, but it ended up getting me suspended. Then I got kicked off the football team my freshmen year, and I love football. I finally got expelled and started hanging out with the wrong kids, drinking and smoking. I knew I had to make a change, because things were going nowhere, and I really didn’t want to end up in jail like my dad or some of my brothers. I came to Hanna the first time when I was 14. My youth pastor at church told me about Hanna, and she came with my mom and me when we checked it out. My first few months, I got into 13 fights. I was too angry to be here. I couldn’t play sports because of my fighting, so I ended up leaving. I tried to go back to my old school, but, long story short, I basically had to do independent study at home my junior year. That was hard because I didn’t have any discipline and no one was teaching me, so my grades just tanked. Then I decided to come back to Hanna. The great thing about Hanna is they meet you where you are. It’s not one- strike-and-you’re-out, or even three strikes. The staff here have helped me figure out better ways to express myself and relate to people. I’ve made a ton of progress. First my grades started improving a lot. Then I started playing sports again — football, basketball and baseball — because I could burn off energy and turn around bad feelings. A big turning point was getting an internship at a local hotel, which was awesome. I’m graduating, and I’ve decided to go to a four-year Christian university, where I’m planning to study criminal justice or psychology. If I could describe how I’ve changed since I came to Hanna in three words, they would be “enthusiastic,” “persevering” and “caring.” ■ Continued on inside FROM THE DESK OF THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR June 2, Graduation Day. A day that really brought home what Hanna is all about. On the face of it, this event may not seem like that much to get excited about. Our seniors — all 24 of them this year — graduated from Archbishop Hanna High School and went out into the world. How many millions of American kids had the same experience this spring? But take a minute to remember who our boys are. They come from unimaginable backgrounds. Some were homeless. Some battled drug issues. Some have witnessed or experienced appalling physical or emotional abuse. Some have experienced domestic or community violence. Some never had enough food to eat. Yet they all have one thing in common: Before coming to Hanna, few ever pictured themselves graduating from high school. Some didn’t even expect to see their 17th or 18th birthday. The best part, as they walked across the stage to receive their diplomas, was knowing that graduation is just the tip of the iceberg for these kids. The real victory is that they have proved to themselves that they can change things about their lives they never thought could change. “The great thing about Hanna is they meet you where you are.”