Off Beat: Woman attends 18 graduations to see students realize ‘Dream’

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There were about 25 high school graduations in Clark County this spring, and Deanna Green attended 18 of them.

It’s not that Green is a big fan of “Pomp and Circumstance.”

But she understands the circumstances that some of those grads overcame to get their diplomas.

Green is project coordinator for the fourth group of students to go through Vancouver’s I Have a Dream Program. The idea is to take a group of kids in a low-income neighborhood elementary school, then help them to succeed.

When about 90 Dreamers graduated this spring, the program’s sponsors, volunteers and project coordinators — Green and Sheila Peraza — enjoyed seeing those students get their due.

Even when two or three graduations were scheduled for the same night.

“On days that there were two, three or four graduations, it generally seemed to work out with them starting at either 7, 7:30 or 8 p.m.,” Green said. “One graduation would start at 7 p.m. and we would be there before the event, taking pictures.”

They stayed for about half the ceremony, and then dashed off to catch the beginning of another graduation, where they would stay until the end to congratulate their Dreamer student.

On the night with three graduations, one started at 7 p.m. and the other two started at 8 p.m., she said. They arrived before the first one started and watched part of it, then took off to catch the beginning of an 8 o’clock ceremony.

Then they hurried to catch the finish of the other 8 p.m. graduation and take photographs when it was over.

Furious four

“The most complicated evening was four” graduations, Green said. “Two of them at 7 p.m. and two of them at 8 p.m. Whew!”

Green said she was impressed that there was at least one sponsor at each Dreamer graduation. Seventeen sponsors — individuals, couples, families and groups — pledged $2.2 million and also came up with additional money for programs and expenses.

At one commencement, the only adults in the crowd cheering for the graduate were a couple of I Have a Dream staff members and a sponsor.

Fortunately, Green said, “That was an exception.”

Off Beat lets members of The Columbian news team step back from our newspaper beats to write the story behind the story, fill in the story or just tell a story.