Submitted by Denita Dowell-Reavis, Ed.D.,
Alexander County Schools Communications Director
In a world where it is easy to quit, that’s exactly what 19-year-old Kadin Daughaday avoided. Despite multiple life challenges, Kadin will be one of the 256 seniors who walk across the stage at Alexander Central June 9 to get his diploma. Kadin was in and out of his biological mom’s care till he was adopted at 12, so getting to graduation wasn’t easy.
“The whole graduation thing, I’m happy because there’s a whole lot of opportunities I would miss out on without it. I will be going home with a diploma,” says Kadin.
Kadin’s biological mom and dad were abusive towards one another and split up when he was little. He’s gone through suicide attempts, the suicide of a friend, trauma, loss of family, Covid, an aunt now fighting cancer and more. His adoptive mom says he’s witnessed and been through abuse that no child should. Lynne Daughaday says a lot of adults couldn’t have come through what he has. Kadin was in and out of foster care for six years till the time his biological mom left him with her sister.
Lynne Daughaday remembers the day. “She just said, ‘you can take him to DSS or you can keep him and call his social worker,’ and I said ‘You can get off my property right now.’”
Those early days weren’t easy. Math teacher Rachel Privette had Kadin as a student at East Alexander Middle school.
“I remember coming out of 7th grade, coming out of math class having to walk laps around the building just to calm him down,” says Privette.
Now, she teaches Kadin at the Student Success Center (SSC), the alternative learning program in Alexander County.
Privette says much of Kadin’s success is that he was willing to reach out for support. She observes, “A lot of people in Kadin’s life have disappointed him, but that has never stopped him from loving or accepting others with his whole heart.”
Kadin truly seems to be fighting the odds. The National Foster Youth Institute reports only 50% of students who go through foster care will graduate high school. The low graduation rates are often blamed on students moving in and out of multiple homes, being suspended or expelled more often, and lacking a strong connection to friends or supportive adults.
His mom says SSC is not for the “bad kids” and credits the school system for finding a way to help Kadin. Since December, Kadin has been working at Sipple Speed and Performance in Mooresville. He’s building transmissions for race cars. He’s nervous about the graduation ceremony but calls the event a chance to make his journey
“It’s kind of like bragging rights to some people. Cause a lot of people, they don’t go through with it. They don’t get it done, they suffer, and they can see me where I’m going in life and they would know that I graduated that they would be like ‘dang, I’m missing out on stuff.’”
The teachers and students at SSC celebrated with a simple and intimate commencement ceremony on Tuesday, May 30, as Kadin and three other students are graduating this spring.
Alexander County averages about 45 young people each day who are in foster care.