Editor's note: This article was written by a Townsquare Media Northern New England contributor and may contain the individual's views, opinions or personal experiences.

I want to preface this by saying take my words (not the words of Tonya Ames that you'll read below, but my words) with a grain of salt. As much as I think I've learned good judgment over the years through just maturation and learning from mistakes, I'm not a parent so I don't have a first-hand reference to go off of with these words. That said...

Dover High School student Andre Schaeffer took his life a year ago

In what was a truly heartbreaking story for the entire Dover community a year ago, standout cheerleader and all-around good kid, Andre Schaeffer, unfortunately took his own life one year ago. Today, Friday, June 10, 2022, would've been his graduation day from Dover High.

Last night, on the eve of what would've been her son's graduation day, Tonya Ames posted heartfelt, loving, motherly words about her late son. Months ago, Andre's classmates successfully fought for his inclusion in the Class of 2022 yearbook. What Tonya's words highlighted in her post last night, though, was a story of graduation day causing anxiety and stress for Andre, who admittedly wasn't a Straight-A student.

Tonya Ames
Tonya Ames

Tonya's words not only highlight the type of man Andre was becoming, but also serve as a lesson and thought-provoking point of view to parents on what actually matters most -- your child posting up good grades, or posting up good humanity skills instead?

June 10, 2022 is graduation day for Dover High School. It is a day I looked forward to for years. It was also a day that caused Andre so much stress and anxiety. I knew Andre could get to this day but he feared it almost.
We all know Andre was amazing at almost anything he did but that didn’t translate to school. Not that he wasn’t smart by any means he just struggled to stay focused and on task. His mental health got the best of him and tricked him into thinking he was a failure because he didn’t do well with time management or organization to help him turn in assignments.
I want parents to realize that it’s ok if your kid is not a good student. It’s ok if they don’t get all A’s. Being good in school does not correlate to being a good person, being a respectful person or hell even being a successful person. Plenty of millionaires were horrible students but they had DRIVE, PASSION and PERSEVERANCE. Focus on those skills!
Encourage your child to try their best, but if they do and still come up short…love them even more. This unconditional love and support will change them in a positive way- the way they view failure vs success, the way they view your relationship and trust with them and the way they view themselves!
Happy Graduation Andre James Schaeffer.

I choose to focus on that more than whether he gets an A or an F on a test. To me, personally, good humanity outweighs good grades.

As mentioned at the start of this, I'm not a parent. Maybe I have no business weighing in on this. But I look at my little brother -- 22 years my junior -- who, not to throw him under the bus, struggles with school but at his core, has a good heart. He makes mistakes, but what teenager doesn't? He means well. I genuinely believe he doesn't set out to cause harm to people, but wants to be a good friend and good person. I choose to focus on that more than whether he gets an A or an F on a test. To me, personally, good humanity outweighs good grades.

School is hard. Not just the subject matter, the tests, the homework, the insanely stupid math that no human (probably not even teachers) fully understand. But existing. Especially in these days. Because bullying has always been a thing. Wanting to feel accepted by your peers has always been a thing. But back in the day, students had an escape for those tough times -- as soon as they stepped off the school bus to walk home, they were free from the tough times until the next day.

Tonya Ames
Tonya Ames

Students these days don't have that escape, because it never turns off. The hard times begin the second they wake up and read text messages or posts on social media that affect them. Then endure an entire school day where the tough times continue in person. And all of that is followed by tough times continuing yet again digitally. And in between all that, they need to try and churn out good grades.

At some point, what truly matters needs to be considered. Is it the fact that they got an A+ on that algebra test that they're probably never going to need to think about again when they enter the real world, or is it that they got an A+ in their treatment of their peers and other humans in general?

Those of us reading and writing this may be grown adults, but Tonya's words above prove that at the end of the day, we never truly stop learning. The lessons are always out there.

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