Claudine Howard is the mother of Destiny Davis, who just graduated as Salutatorian from Eleanor McMain Secondary School this spring. Ms. Howard reflects on her dreams for her daughter and the ways in which COVID-19 has impacted Destiny’s last months of high school.
I dream of so much for my daughter, Destiny. I dream of her being a doctor, which is what she wants to be. I dream of her having a good life and also giving back. I do not want her to forget about others; I have taught her that it is important to help the next person along the way as best you can. And I want her to take care of herself the best she can, too.
A Leader at McMain
Every day, Destiny is moving closer to those dreams. Soon, she will be graduating from Eleanor McMain Secondary School, where she has blossomed. Over her time at McMain, I have seen her transform. She has always been outgoing, and being at McMain, she has had the chance to really become a role model. She has become a leader and a well-rounded individual.
This year, for instance, Destiny was the Student Leadership President for the second year in a row. She has also been captain of the dance team, a member of the school choir, and she has spoken publicly on behalf of McMain at special events. Destiny has also served for three years as a member of the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee. She and her fellow committee members, chosen from among students citywide, advise the Superintendent on issues that are important to young people.
Changes after COVID-19
The end of her senior year at McMain, of course, has looked different than any of us could have expected. COVID-19 meant that Destiny could not finish her time at McMain in person. She could not go to prom or attend her senior trip, and her graduation ceremony has been postponed.
It was hard for her in the beginning as she realized it was all changing. But I am proud of her and how she has adjusted. McMain’s classes have moved online, and she is completing all of their requirements.
She is also continuing her work on the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee. Since COVID-19 began, Superintendent Lewis has hosted virtual chats with the student committee to get their input about everything that is going on.
So even though her senior spring is not what we expected, Destiny’s spirits are really high. She and her friends have been keeping in touch and talking on the phone. The faculty is communicating with students just as if they were all still at school, only now it is virtual.
As a family, we have been planning celebrations for her. Everyone is getting together to give Destiny a graduation parade from their cars. We also made a video for her and her graduating class. I came up with a cheer for McMain’s seniors, and we danced with music in the background. McMain posted it on their Instagram. I have also told Destiny that we would have a photo shoot for her in her prom dress when she is ready. She earned it.
McMain is celebrating students, too. They are planning a graduation ceremony for when students can be together safely, at a social distance. The school is also giving students yard signs that say they are a member of the Eleanor McMain Secondary School Class of 2020.
What Comes Next: Scholarships and College
I am so proud of her for getting to this moment. Because of all her hard work at McMain, she is going to attend Xavier University in the fall, where she will study pre-med to become the doctor she wants to be. She will be receiving the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) scholarship. Destiny needed a score of 20 or higher on the ACT to get TOPS. For a while she was kind of stuck, but at home we persevered, and at school, she and her teachers persevered, too. With persistence and support, she earned a 21.
Even though she is graduating, that support will not go away. Destiny knows she will still stay in touch with those educators. It was never going to be “I was your teacher and now I’m gone.” It has always been about a life-long relationship. The virus has not changed that.
And Destiny’s persistence will not go away, either. She will take that with her to Xavier and into the rest of her life. The current crisis does not scare Destiny away from wanting to study medicine. She has seen what doctors and nurses have had to go through, and it makes her want to do this work even more. She wants to be someone her patients can depend on. I know she will be.
The New Orleans Uptown Public School Series is brought to you by New Schools for New Orleans in partnership with NOLA Messenger.