By Jessica Seay, AmeriCorps member proudly serving on the New Schools for Baton Rouge team at Merrydale Elementary School. 

On Wednesday, May 16th, 2018, Merrydale Elementary School had its annual 5th grade graduation. Every single member of the 5th grade class will be moving on to attend middle school next year. While many of them will be going to different schools, they were able to celebrate this achievement together. For Senior AmeriCorps member Abigail Long, one graduate held a very special significance.

Over her past two years working at Merrydale, Abigail developed a close relationship with 5th grade graduate Karl Fieldman*. She first met Karl in his 4th grade English class. Following the flood at the beginning of the year, Karl was having a very difficult time, and Abigail’s first memory of Karl was of him sitting with his head down on the desk on their first day back to school. Slowly throughout the year, he began to make progress. He began speaking up in class more, he became eager to learn, and he was doing really great when Abigail pulled him out for interventions. They spent a lot of time setting goals for improvement and talking about what he wanted his future report cards to look like.

This year, Karl was back at Merrydale again, and to Abigail’s delight, he started the year off really strong. He had his setbacks, but overall he showed a lot of growth and improvement. Abigail runs a gardening club after school where she said she has really been able to see Karl shine as a leader amongst his peers.

Abigail said that seeing Karl graduate is bittersweet because she’s really proud of him, but it’s going to be different not being able to see him and work with him every day. She thinks he’s a really sweet kid with a great, goofy personality and a kind heart. Abigail is hopeful that Karl will do really well in middle school. His grandma is very invested in Karl’s future, and she thinks that will help Karl to succeed.

Despite all that Karl has been through, between the flood last year and all of the obstacles he continues to face, Karl continues to stay positive and work really hard. Abigail thinks that if Karl continues to work hard and stay true to who he is, he is going to do big, great things.

*Name has been changed to protect the student’s identity. 

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