Catching the dream

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William Fletcher passed all his classes at Madisonville High School in 2008. He met all requirements for graduation – except one.

He did not pass the math portion of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test. Thus, he did not get to walk across the stage with his peers on graduation day and receive his diploma.

Hundreds, maybe thousands, of kids are denied a diploma just because of the state’s testing requirement – even though they make passing grades in all their courses, said MCISD Superintendent Keith Smith.

The unusual thing about William Fletcher, however, is that last month the 26-year-old took the test again.

And he passed.

Fletcher was awarded his diploma on Friday by Smith – who was the MHS principal during part of Fletcher’s high school tenure – and current Principal Shaye Murphy.

Smith commented on the young man’s persistence and commitment.

“I don’t know many people who have shown that kind of diligence,” he said. “I’m very proud of you.”

Murphy added his congratulations.

“I have a lot of admiration for you,” he said.

Smith noted that the district’s elementary school nurse gave Fletcher the best compliment.

“She says you’re a great dad,” Smith told the father of four. “That’s more important than being able to solve for X. Our job is to educate you so you can have a better life.”

Fletcher now lives in Fort Worth but traveled back to Madisonville last week with his mother Sharon Hayden and grandmother Ada Goffney. He said he hopes to further his education by attending trade school to study heavy machinery.

“They pushed me,” he said of Madisonville administrators who urged him to retake the test. “I’m glad they did.”

Smith said the lesson learned is commitment.

“We’ve never had someone so committed,” he said, noting that although it took a few years, they continued to encourage Fletcher.

“We can’t give up on people,” Smith said. “I’m very proud of him.”

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