Reflections by Jeremey Alger

I had a memory the other day that got me wondering what if? I’d like to tell you the memory and use it to illustrate something that I think is incredibly important.
I was not a good student in school. I don’t mean that I had any trouble passing tests or learning the material. I was not well behaved. Between 7th and 10th grade I was sent to the principal’s office about 25 times per year. I was generally bored in class and I did any number of things to entertain myself. I was not respectful of many of my teachers and I often got in trouble for the way that I spoke to them. I was in advanced placement and honors classes but I was the trouble maker in almost all of those classes.
I found my groove by the end of tenth grade and I learned how to stay out of trouble better. Still, the memory I had was that I got a failing grade on the first half of the 2nd semester of Senior English. I had failed that marking period because I thought two of the assigned books were dumb so I didn’t read them or do the papers assigned with them. You need to pass all four years of English to get a diploma. Because of that there was a delay on me getting my cap and gown until after the teacher had graded the final exam to ensure that I was actually qualified to graduate.
So what if I hadn’t passed that final exam? Would I have done summer school? Would I have gone back to high school the following year? As I imagine myself at that age I fear that I may have done neither. A big part of my attitude problems at that point in my life was born out of my own ignorance as to how the world works. It is not very difficult to imagine that arrogant kid (me) just saying “forget it all!” and dropping out of school.
I feel like I need to point out that I am a high school and college graduate. I actually write and deliver speeches (sermons) every week and you’re reading my weekly newspaper column. English is not something that I struggle with.
Yet, if that one grade had not been passing I would likely be a drop-out who never went to college and who never accomplished any of the things that I have accomplished in my life. We can never say anything with certainty in response to these “what if” questions, but I think we all can agree that I needed to finish high school.
I’m writing all of this today because I know that there are kids like me who don’t have a good time in school. This pandemic may be making things especially difficult. In my time as a youth pastor I have had many chances to encourage kids, “you need to finish this.” “You can be free of almost everything in your life if you get this diploma.”
The Bible tells us that “fools despise wisdom and teaching.” I can attest to being one such fool when I was young. Aside from committing an atrocious crime there is almost nothing that you can do that will derail your adult life more than dropping out of high school. If you are considering not finishing school please reach out to find someone to help you make that decision. Hopefully they will help you get through the struggle of earning your diploma. I believe this so much that you can email me at [email protected] I would love to talk to you and help you put yourself in the best position for a lifetime of success.
Jeremy Alger is the pastor of the New Cumberland Church of the Nazarene. For more information please visit