Archive for September, 2010


The Final Award

   Posted by: Michael Bernier   in Yesterday's Memories

We received a large envelope for Stephen in the mail today. It was from the College Board, the organization that manages all the standardized testing that students take when applying to college, like the SAT. Steve had taken four Advanced Placement (AP) tests back in May in an effort to earn some college credits for his high school work. He was waiting for the scores to come in when he died, so he never knew how he did. When the scores finally arrived in mid-July, we learned that he had done extremely well on three of the four exams.

This takes us to the envelope that came in today. In it was a letter of congratulations on his test scores, and a certificate recognizing him as an AP Scholar. The date on the certificate was August 14th – a month after his scores came in, and almost two months after the accident. It is the last award Steve will ever receive in a very long line of awards he earned over the years, starting with numerous prizes for reading in elementary school. He won every reading award the school offered, and he pushed the limits so far that the faculty had to invent new awards to recognize his work. He won numerous academic trophies, medals, and certificates over the years, and was very proud to receive each and every one. Many of his medals and trophies are on our fireplace mantle and the nearby shelves, and we framed and hung many of the certificates on the wall outside his bedroom; but, we quickly ran out of space to put more up, and the newer ones ended up scattered around his room and the rest of the house. He far and away outstripped me and the awards I received in school, and he was in an excellent position to achieve his goal of becoming class valedictorian.

And yet, in spite of everything he accomplished, he never felt satisfied with his work. He always pushed himself to try harder with each new assignment given to him, and his schedule during his sophomore year was filled with almost all AP classes. He sometimes whined and lamented over that, but he was quick to remind himself that it had been his choice to make, and then he would go back to his work.

It is unfortunate for all of us that he died just as his efforts were starting to pay off for him. There will always be the thought of “what might have been” making its way through the corridors of our minds, but there is some comfort in knowing that whatever might have been, Steve would have strived to be the best.