Senior Fights For Right To Graduate - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

05/20/05 - Hudson

Senior Fights For Right To Graduate

by Ramonica R. Jones

Like most high school seniors, graduation day can't come soon enough for Amanda Moulder, but there's one problem.  

Mandy's been an "A" student at Hudson High School, passed all her classes, and had good attendance, but she still needs to pass the TAKS test to graduate - not the whole test, just the science exam.  She's tried five times.

"I think that there should be certain exceptions," Mandy said.  "There're other area schools that let [their students] walk the stage.  Lufkin, for instance, is one and they have a certain program they go through.   I think Hudson should adopt a program such as that and have certain restrictions."

Thursday night, Mandy and her mom pleaded with school board members to let her be part of the graduation ceremony.  The board voted 5 to 2 against Mandy's request. 

Superintendent Mary Ann Whiteker called the decision difficult and emotionally upsetting, but she says the district has to make sure students complete all coursework and standardized tests.

Larena Moulder said, "The objective for us and for my daughter was just to be able to walk the stage, and I put that very clear up front - that we were not asking for a diploma, we only wanted her to walk the stage."

Since second grade, Mandy's been a student under the 504 program.  It helps students with learning disabilities have modifications so they can learn at their own pace.

Mandy's learning disability is test taking.  She gets overly anxious and starts to panic before an exam, but she's not using that as an excuse.

"It's discouraging, but it's something that I know I'm gonna conquer and that I'm gonna do," Mandy said.  "I'm gonna set out that goal, I'm not gonna back down.  I'm gonna do everything possible that I can to graduate."

The board gave Mandy permission to go to the senior breakfast on graduation day.  Her family says that's not good enough.

Larena said, "When you walk across the stage, that is a moment you can never recapture, ever."

Mandy's already ordered invitations and a cap and gown.  She's done just about everything to pass the TAKS test, including afterschool programs and a private tutor.  She even filed a petition to get her last exam re-scored by hand.  Her family's also called senators and the Texas governor for help.

Amanda plans to continue taking the science portion of the TAKS test until she passes it.  Her next chance is July 15th.  Graduation for Hudson seniors is May 28th.

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