Graduation Day

The Cherokee Creek mission is to “challenge boys and their families to discover what is real and true about themselves and the world around them.”  Graduation is a poignant and powerful moment for everyone at Cherokee Creek… staff, students and parents. It is a time to reflect on the lessons of self-discovery that have been learned by the students and their parents.  It is a time of “honorable closure”…to say goodbye and to send blessings for the next leg of the journey.  

Alumni mom, Susan, read this message to her son, Daniel, at his graduation in August and she is allowing us to share these words with you.  They capture so well the Cherokee Creek Boys School experience from a parent’s perspective. Thank you, Susan, for demonstrating your understanding of courage, truth, love and wisdom through your strong-hearted, hope-filled and loving words to your wonderful son!

Susan reads to Daniel at his graduation

Susan reads to Daniel at his graduation

Daniel, so often in your life you have chosen the most difficult path, often thinking it was the easiest. I’ve seen you work very hard to avoid work, and in your interactions with people or just when by yourself, you often did the opposite of what was really your heart’s desire. All of this culminated in dragging you down into a vortex that was not leading to a very happy, successful ending.

We knew you needed to be removed from your old habits and ways of thinking and set into a new, healthy, healing environment.  We gave you the gift of time, of taking a time-off, to start to find out who is the authentic Daniel that God so masterfully created. We knew if you uncovered your true self and gave yourself grace, that you would start to see your own worth as well as in others, and from there you could find your goals for yourself and start to rebuild your patterns into healthy ones.

Daniel, you have worked very hard and have sacrificed so much. It was very, very hard for us to be separated from you, but at least we had each other. I frequently imagined your fear and pain in the early days at CCBS. It must have been brutal. 

Thanks to your hard work and determination and the encouragement, wisdom, and patience of everyone at CCBS, you have become the new and improved Daniel. You have the warmth, values, humor, and talent, you’ve always had, but now it’s packaged in a more confident, courageous, other-centered person. You came to CCBS as a boy, but you’re leaving as a man.

I am so proud of you and am so full of hope for your future. I see you being happy, successful in school, and sports, and hopefully growing in your relationship with God. Where I once thought of your future with worry, I am now so optimistic. 


Thank you everyone, Mike, Jane, Butch, Nick, James, Will, Yanic, Royce, Sandy, Sharon, David, and everyone else I’m forgetting. Thank you for what you have done for Daniel. You have given us a priceless gift and we will be forever grateful.


Cherokee Creek Boys School is a therapeutic boarding school for middle-school boys, ages 11-15, located in Upstate South Carolina.

posted by jleslie in Discovering What is Real and True and have Comments (4)

4 Responses to “Graduation Day”

  1. Michelle Ward-Brent says:

    So precious, and tender. Thank you for sharing with us as we walk this path together. Blessings to you Daniel and your family. Devon’s mom

  2. Loretta says:

    Susan and Daniel… your words ring true for our family, also. Cherokee Creek offered all of us a “space for grace…” a time for all of us to take a break from the distractions of everyday life and allow us to feel and discover what is true and lasting. We know that Dominic continues to experience this healing grace, and our family is whole again, even in his absence (at a traditional boarding school). Thank you for sharing this!

  3. Greg Gibson says:


  4. Nate says:

    Congrats, Dan! I was there back in ’04. Good for you! 🙂