Thursday, June 7, 2018 James graduated High School!! It was an incredible night of celebration. He graduated with four other high school seniors from the McLean Homeschool Group. All the graduates are headed to great four year colleges or Universities. James will continue at Northern Virginia Community College, completing his Associates degree in 2019 and hopefully onto University in 2020.
Below is James’s graduation speech:
June 7, 2018
At last, my high school graduation. I have always visualized this day, but it was a distant image that I never fully grasped would become a reality. Yet, here it is. I’m also happy to hear my words be read by a male voice…for a change. As many of you may know, my academic career began with repetitive tasks and the idea that true, meaningful learning would not be something I would be able to ever experience. Being diagnosed with Autism has, indeed, been a defining aspect in my life. Yet, being able to communicate and learn for the past 5 years has given me hope and helped me rediscover my true identity. I stand here before you as a high school graduate, and can say my academic career is nowhere near over.
Doing this alone would have been impossible.
My caring parents: You have supported me every step of the way. From believing in my abilities, to truly listening to my voice, my hopes, and my dreams; you have done everything you can to ensure I have a real shot at achieving them. When I couldn’t share my thoughts and feelings, you were there to push against all expectations so that I could have a meaningful life. You believed in me when I did not believe in myself. WE did it!
My Teachers: You have opened up my world. You allowed me to be curious and explore the unknown. Most importantly, you challenged me. You treated me like any other student, knowing I was capable of keeping up, while still understanding that I learn and communicate differently. Mrs. Evans, there was never a dull moment in your class. You truly taught me how to be a student. I will always remember you. Shannon, you have been my guiding light throughout this process. You have helped me hold myself accountable and challenged me to hold myself to a higher standard. I could not be here without you. Margarita, thank you for understanding me. All of your knowledge has helped me grow and your understanding has helped me succeed. For being such a big part of my journey, muchas gracias!
My fellow classmates: All of you have welcomed me and made me feel like I belong here. I have learned so much from the discussions, humor, and perspectives shared in class. But most importantly, the way you have treated me has made me feel like part of this community. I’ll always remember my high school experience because of you.
LOVED LOVED LOVED seeing you graduate, James! Such joy to have seen you transformed in the past several years! Praise God for His work in your life and the faithful and caring people He has placed around you to help and encourage you on your journey! You have an amazing testimony to God’s power in your life and I pray that all your future plans will continue to give Him the glory! Congratulations, James! And I’ll send my pictures when I finish editing.
Congratulations!!! We rejoice with the whole Potthast family!! O happy day!!
More Lord, More!!!
A nice young lady at my church was so excited to tell me that she has witnessed a young man give his graduation speech thru this brother on stage and that he could communicate so well. She was amazed. I said was his name, James Potthast?
Yes!!!! she said.
I knew it.
Congratulations. You are an inspiration.
Thanks Tara! So great to hear from you. I hope Isaac is doing well and the rest of the family!
Isaac is doing well. He has started to type in sentences by using phrases. So exciting!
We are all in Woodbridge now. I am attempting craniosacral as an LMT now and doing MNRI next. I have a practice called Touched by Autism Healing Arts.
It has been my pleasure and my joy to work with you.
Please stay in touch and share with me your progress as you fully pursue your post-secondary education.
Thank you for all that you have taught me. I will carry it with me and apply it in my journey and academic career.