AKRON, Ohio (WJW) – The National Inventors Hall of Fame STEM School graduating class of 2022 will be the first class of students that counselor Marvin Grandison has seen through high school since freshmen.
When they graduate in May, however, he will not be able to be there.
Grandison, who is also a staff sergeant with the U.S. Air Force Reserves, will soon leave for a six-month deployment. He cannot reveal where he will be going but his seniors did not want him to leave without a proper send-off.
Grandison would have been expected to read out the names of the graduating seniors during their May 11 ceremony.
Working quietly behind the scenes with school administrators, the senior class on Thursday surprised him with a ceremony two months before their actual graduation, wearing homemade caps and wearing t-shirts that read ‘We salute Coach Grandison for his service.’
The ‘roll call’ ceremony was as close to an actual graduation as they could create, giving Grandison the chance to read the names of his seniors as they crossed the stage and shook his hand with the counselor’s wife and 15-month-old daughter sharing the stage.
“He has touched so many of us as a student body, so we wanted to do something special for him before he gets sent off,” said Carlo Johnson, the senior class president.
“He put in the hard work and dedication since he came here like managing all the students that go here,” said Arlen Olds, a senior and Grandison’s cousin. “It’s sad that he won’t be here for our graduation to see us go off into our next chapter in life because he helped us get here.”
Genuinely surprised by the outpouring, an emotional Grandison told the students he never personally expected such an acknowledgement.
“They have been through a lot. They have missed half of their high school career (because of COVID), but they have come through, they persevered and for them to be in this position, its truly an honor for me to be a part of it,” Grandison told FOX 8.
“I try not to think about him leaving until closer, so I’ve known about this for a couple months and really hit home for me too,” said Grandison’s wife, Rachelle. “When he first found out he was deploying, that was the first thing he said to me was, ‘I don’t get to see my first class graduate,’ and that kind of hit me too because he has been with them since day one.”
Perhaps because of all they have been through with COVID, STEM High School Principal Dina Popa said this senior class seems to have a unique and extremely close bond and Grandison is a big part of all of that.
“He’s a one in a million. He’s one of those people you get on your staff and you are never going to let them go,” said Popa. “So many of us here are touched by somebody in their family that’s in the military so it means a lot to us that we are able to do this for him.”
Though the details of his deployment cannot be revealed, what is happening in Europe weighs heavily on the mind of Grandison’s wife.
But Thursday’s surprise send-off helps them understand that the students he has supported through four years of high school are now supporting him.
“Just keep him in your prayers. Keep all of them in your prayers. Keep our family in your prayers,” said his wife.