‘FACING GIANTS’: Ombudsman students overcome obstacles to graduate

Published 1:10 pm Monday, June 10, 2024

NATCHEZ — Not everyone’s road is easy.

The 20 students of Ombudsman Educational Center who received their high school diplomas on Friday inside the Natchez High School gymnasium each overcame their own unique set of challenges to reach that milestone.

Ombudsman services students who need special assistance with either academics or behavior. The school is accredited by the same organization that accredits Natchez Adams School District and other schools nationally, so an Ombudsman diploma carries the same weight as an NASD diploma or any others from the State of Mississippi.

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Guest speaker Rev. Stanley Searcy II compared the graduates’ challenges to the giant that King David in the Bible faced as a shepherd before he ascended his throne.

“The Bible tells us that the giant made fun of David,” Searcy said. “The giant told David, ‘Today, the birds and the beasts of the air will eat your flesh.’ Sounds kind of familiar. All of us — if we’re being honest with ourselves tonight — have found ourselves in situations or circumstances a time or two that seem like more than we can handle.

“But David looked that giant in the face and he says, ‘You come to me with natural weapons. But I come to you in the name of Jehovah … the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.’ I want to tell you tonight if God be for you, who in the world can be against you?”

Searcy reminded graduates, “Class of 2024, you have been faced with some giants. But there is a God who made a way out of their way.”

Natchez Adams School District Superintendent Zandra McDonald-Green told graduates that when she looks at them, the word “resilience” comes to mind.

“The word resilience means the capacity to withstand or to recover quickly from difficulties,” she said. “Nothing happens by happenstance. Everything is intentional. Today is June 7, June the sixth month, the seventh day. The number six represents the number of man. The number seven represents personal completion. Today marks the completion of the era of your life as a child and now marks the beginning of your adult life. You have now learned a valuable lesson, when plan A doesn’t work, we move on to plan B.

“So, I want you to leave here today understanding that you are winners. Every day of your life I need you to wake up saying to yourself, ‘Today I win, no matter what challenges I face, no matter the difficulties that I face, no matter who says that I can’t because I can.’ I want you to dream big. The world is big. Go out and be big in the big world.”