7. Clay/Karen Brooks

If it had not been for Clay and Karen Brooks, I would never have completed my high school career at Dover High School. They are to thank for allowing me to live a dream of sorts, that being my want to go from kindergarten until graduation day of senior year in the same school district.

During February of my junior year in high school, my parents decided to move from Dover Plains to a nearby town after living in our same house for 13 years. Their reasons for doing so were unclear, but the message conveyed was simple: my brothers, sister, and I would finish the rest of this school year at Dover and then switch to our local school for the next school year. Out of the four of us, I was most adamant on not leaving. Dover school district was responsible for a tremendous amount of happiness in my life. I had forged relationships with people, gotten used to the system, and enjoyed my time there. My parents tried to argue that I would just have to get over it and move on but I spoke out every chance I got. I was not going to switch schools when I had one year remaining until I graduated, and no one could have convinced me otherwise.

As time went on, I began to think of solutions. Simply “just going” was out of the question as the principal had made it very clear that I did not live within the radius required to go to school in Dover. My other option was a long shot, but if it worked, I could finish school in the district. I decided that I would talk to some friends and see if I could live with them and their families. Although this seemed like a good solution, it was not guaranteed to work and I had very few options. Instinctively, I contacted my best friend Jim about the issue. It was only proper to ask his family because I had the best relationship with them. After discussions it was determined that I would not be permitted to live with them. While this hurt, I had to keep trying. This is when Clay and Karen helped out.

I had been going over my friend Clayton’s house for awhile now, starting in my junior year. I found his mom to be extremely nice and his dad was someone to talk to. I had run the idea of living with him by Clayton and we determined that we would ask his parents when the time was right. I wasn’t really in a rush yet, so I agreed. In the mean time, I just spent my time hoping that they allowed me to stay with them. As time went on, and we still waited to ask, it became clear to me that this was probably my last option. If they said “no,” chances are I would have to give up my search.

As it turns out, the time came sooner than we expected. One day while riding home in the car, Clayton and his mom were talking about various things. The conversation shifted to my situation and her asking him if I had found someone to stay with. He told her that I hadn’t and suggested that I stay with them. His mother responded that, while it could work, she would just have to discuss it with her husband. The discussion occurred some time later and in the end I was given my chance. I moved into their home in late August of 2006. I was relieved, to say the least. I now had the chance to finish what I had started at age five.

I give high praise to these two individuals because they, like so many others, knew how passionate I was about not leaving Dover High School. They took the proper steps to make sure that I wouldn’t have to leave the place where all my roots were planted. For this, I am and always will be thankful.

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