High-Schoolers Mock Older Lady Who Joins Their Class, Bow in Shame After Her Graduation Speech – Story of the Day
Sixty-three-year-old Samantha started attending classes with the seniors of Santa Fe High School after getting a special permit from the principal, but the kids did not take it too well. They mocked her for struggling with the simplest things, until they heard her beautiful graduation speech, revealing the stunning truth they never knew.
Going to high school is no walk in the park for most people. For some folks, classes can be challenging. Meanwhile, others might not be getting along with their peers. There's a reason why high school movies feature so much bullying, heartbreak, and themes about fitting in or standing out.
It can be a daunting experience, but it's supposed to prepare you for life, and it does in many ways. People learn what kind of person they want to be or what they want to do with their lives. But what about the people who never got to finish high school? Would you go back there as an older adult? To live in what most teenagers describe as "hell?"
Samantha arrived at the school, nervous and excited. | Source: Pexels
That's precisely what 63-year-old Samantha thought as she parked her car in the school parking lot and made her way to the school building. She had a meeting with the principal, Mr. Salazar.
"Around the beginning of the year, I shocked my fellow classmates when I showed up at Mr. Torres' English Literature class. They had so many questions, and I answered as best I could. But none of them knew the entire truth of why I decided to return to high school."
Samantha had dropped out of high school in 1975. She was 16. Decades later, she was finally in a great place after working all her life. She made sure that her siblings went to college, cared for their mother when she got sick, and supported everyone who needed her as best she could.
When she married Andrew, Samantha was there for him as he built a successful company in Alachua County, Florida. She had his children and became a stay-at-home mom. But she was always ashamed when she couldn't help them with some school subjects, like math and biology.
Of course, many adults forgot about what they learned in high school as soon as they graduated and never remembered all the frogs they dissected in their lives. But Samantha never had any of those, and she felt like something was missing.
She talked to the principal, Mr. Salazar, who warned her that it might be hard for her. | Source: Unsplash
Over the last few years, she realized that she had not focused on herself at all, and perhaps, it would be nice to go to college and learn more about the world. She received several suggestions, such as online school, GED courses, etc., to learn independently.
But she wanted to go to high school. She didn't even remember what it was like to experience class every day and have no other worries. So Andrew called some people, and he was able to enroll her in senior classes at Santa Fe High School.
"This is highly irregular, Mrs. Matthews," Mr. Salazar told her in his office. "Normally, we wouldn't let any older adults around kids due to possible strange interactions or undue influences, but your husband insisted, and he's an old friend of mine. But I have to tell you, the kids may not be kind.'"
"I understand, Mr. Salazar. I mean, I raised kids of my own, and I have a few young grandkids now. I know the world has changed a lot, but that's mostly on the internet. Things in real life are still tricky. Bullies still exist, and kids can be cruel. I'm prepared for it. At least, I hope so," Samantha assured him, nodding her head excitedly. She was nervous but primarily glad she was taking this opportunity for herself.
"Your kids attended this school, correct?" he asked, as he stood up and browsed through some old files. "I think I remember Brian, our star football player in the 90s."
Mr. Torres was surprised to see her but introduced her to the class. | Source: Pexels
"Yes, that's our Brian," Samantha replied with bright eyes. But she cringed in her chair at the sudden clang of the school bell.
"That's you, Mrs. Matthews. Time for class. You're only starting two weeks after everyone else, so at least, it won't be hard to catch up," Mr. Salazar chirped with his eyebrows raised, and Samantha laughed as she exited his office.
She never expected the sheer chaos of the high school halls. It was just like the movies. Everyone was running around, the smell of sweat was thick in the air, although it was still too early in the morning, and Samantha flinched every time the metallic clang of the lockers resounded around her. But she kept walking.
Finally, she reached her classroom — English Literature with Mr. Torres. The older woman took a deep breath and went inside. The kids were seated already, and the professor had his hand poised against the blackboard with his chalk ready to start his lesson. But he turned to Samantha with a quizzical expression.
"Yes?" he wondered.
"Hello, I'm Samantha Matthews," she stated and approached to give him a sheet of paper with the information she was supposed to provide all the teachers on her first day.
"Oh, right, right," the teacher nodded and sighed, after quickly glancing at the contents of the paper. "Guys, this is your new classmate, Mrs. Matthews. I hope you welcome her," he told the rest of the students.
She answered her classmate's questions as best she could. | Source: Pexels
The older woman turned to the kids at the teacher's announcement, prepared for their reactions. She was right. They all had combinations of dropped jaws, wide eyes, and creased foreheads.
"Mrs. Matthews, you can take a seat over there," Mr. Torres instructed, pointing to one of the empty desks in front.
"Wait! Mrs. Matthews should tell us something about herself," one kid spoke up with his hand raised, and Samantha's eyes widened in pleasant surprise. Were they curious about her? She didn't expect that. Then she started talking about herself, and suddenly, more hands raised, and the students were speaking over each other.
"Why are you here?"
"Why don't you take night classes?"
"Why didn't you finish high school?"
"Why would you want to come back to this hellhole?"
"Did your kids go to this school?"
She tried to answer as much as possible, but Mr. Torres eventually stopped their questions to start the lesson. "Please, sit down, Mrs. Matthews. Let's begin, kids. I assume everyone read the new chapters of Jane Eyre I sent?"
Samantha was glad to learn that they had been studying Jane Eyre, which she had read years ago. | Source: Pexels
There were groans around the class, and Samantha smiled. It was exactly like she remembered. Assignments and moans from kids who didn't want to do it. And she had read Jane Eyre in her 30s, so she was ready.
This will be great, even if it's a little unexpected…
Samantha was wrong. The kids in Lit class were mainly polite in front of Mr. Torres, but the news of a senior student in high school circled the entire school by lunchtime, and not everyone was kind.
Some students decided it would be funny to tape signs to her back, which she didn't know until another teacher pointed it out. Furthermore, as expected, she had a lot of trouble during math class. Algebra was not her strong suit, and she barely remembered anything. She had so many questions that the other students started moaning every time she raised her hand.
Soon enough, Samantha heard them snickering in class and the hallways. Some even whispered about her, mocking her as she walked past them.
"Grandma is so stupid. She can't even add," she heard one say.
"Grandma is slow. That's why she didn't finish high school in the 1800s," was another comment thrown her way.
"I wonder if Grandma will be at gym. She's gonna get pummeled with basketballs."
"I'm gonna talk to my parents. Going to school with an old woman is just weird."
Samantha was mocked and bullied by some kids, but she did not let them deter her. | Source: Unsplash
Samantha's first day had started alright, but it turned somewhat humiliating. Yet she wasn't about to quit because of a few bullies and idiots. She was an adult woman. A mother who knew what it was like to be around immature children. She could do this.
Some words from the kids were hurtful, and others were worrying. But she would not let any of them deter her from her final goal: to graduate and obtain a high school diploma.
Months passed, and Samantha continued to receive some bullying from certain cliques. But for the most part, the kids got used to her, and some sat down and talked to her during breaks. It was nice, although it wasn't often. She mainly was alone or with a teacher.
Some teachers were concerned about the bullying, but the older woman told them everything would be alright. Most of the faculty was younger than her, and if they could get through the day without breaking, she could do it too. After all, some of these students were just as hard on their teachers as they were on Samantha, so she would be brave just like them.
To everyone's shock, Samantha overcame her struggles and achieved top grades in all her classes. Thus, come graduation, Mr. Salazar and the rest of the faculty chose her to speak during the ceremony.
Samantha proudly wore her blue gown and top hat with a special yellow sash, indicating that she was graduating with honors. It was more exciting than she had ever imagined, and more importantly, her entire family showed up. Her husband, son, and both her daughters sat in the audience. Some of them held her grandchildren in their laps.
Samantha was proud to be wearing her cap and gown, as everyone gathered for the graduation ceremony. | Source: Pexels
She waved at them from the podium where she sat next to the faculty and the official valedictorian of the class. Then it was time for her to speak.
"And before we hear from this class's valedictorian, let us welcome a special student who joined the class this year: Samantha Matthews," Mr. Salazar announced and clapped his hands, so the rest of the audience followed suit.
The older woman stood up, shook the principal's hand, and leaned on the podium. Her nervousness was through the roof, but she stared at the beautiful faces of her family and somehow found the courage to continue.
"Hello, everyone," she uttered. "Around the beginning of the year, I shocked my fellow classmates when I showed up at Mr. Torres' English Literature class. They had so many questions, and I answered as best I could. But none of them knew the entire truth of why I decided to return to high school. So, here it goes."
"In 1975, the Vietnam war had just ended, and while it brought much joy, it also brought tons of struggle for my family. My father died overseas after years of serving the military honorably and faithfully. Meanwhile, my mother couldn't feed six children on her own, so as the eldest, I dropped out of high school to help her."
The crowd marveled at Samantha and followed her words closely. | Source: Unsplash
Her words riveted the crowd at that point. Even the bullies stared with focused eyes at the older woman who had been in their classroom for the entire year. None of them knew the whole truth.
Samantha continued, "I worked as hard as I could. I made sure my siblings graduated and helped them through college. I got married and raised my family, helping my husband build a business and teaching my kids right from wrong. But I realized as an old woman that I forgot about me. I forgot about my dreams."
"In the 70s, I wanted to study the world, everything about it, so I could help save it. It was the time of hippies, although it also came with big pants and a fevered John Travolta," she stated and was delighted at the laughs she got. Even the students understood her simple joke.
"But seriously, the idea of peace played deeply in my mind, especially when my father died. The idea of never having war in the world again was incredibly enticing, if completely unrealistic. And in my 60s, the idea is still there, and I know that many people still feel as I do. We have so many new struggles and war is still rampant out there. So many injustices. So many struggles. So much hate. So much fear driving us to hate each other.
The ceremony ended, and Samantha took pictures with her family, but something surprised her. | Source: Pexels
"And I know that I can't do anything alone. None of us can. But I have to try. So my dream is to go to college and get a degree in history and maybe political science. Perhaps, I'll become a teacher too. Because knowledge is more powerful than weapons. I know that in my heart, and I hope I can inspire everyone with my story. About never giving up on dreams or being afraid to start something new at an older age.
"If I can inspire others to pursue their dreams of changing the world, then I'll know that my efforts were not in vain. Thank you," Samantha finished, her voice choking, and the crowd went wild.
The students rose, giving her a standing ovation with the loudest applause, and she saw the faculty doing the same. Meanwhile, her family had tears on their faces, which made her finally shed her own as she sat down on her chair next to the valedictorian, who leaned to tell her what a great speech she had made.
The ceremony continued with more speeches, more tears, and finally, Mr. Salazar called her to receive her diploma, which prompted many people to clap once again. It was one of the proudest moments of her life.
When the official event ended, she took pictures with her husband and kids, but to her further shock, most of her classmates called her for group pictures. Some apologized for not standing up to the bullies, unaware of her struggles.
Samantha knew right then that she would never regret going back to school. | Source: Pexels
One of them brought her to tears again. "I think I might want to study political science because of your speech," he said.
And that's how Samantha knew that this tiring year and the journey to come would be so worth it.
What can we learn from this story?
- It's best not to judge a person just because of her age. The students at the high school mocked and judged Samantha for returning to high school at her age, but they regretted it after hearing her real story.
- It's never too late to start over and have the career you always wanted. Some people believe that they can't go to school at a later age. But it's not true. It's never too late to get an education and follow your dreams.
Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.
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This piece is inspired by stories from the everyday lives of our readers and written by a professional writer. Any resemblance to actual names or locations is purely coincidental. All images are for illustration purposes only. Share your story with us; maybe it will change someone's life. If you would like to share your story, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.