Graduation is a time of new beginnings, and that is turning out to be especially true for one Bessemer teen.
Bessemer City High School on Thursday held its graduation ceremony. Dominique Moore, a teacher and graduation coordinator, was cleaning up well after the festivities ended when he noticed one of his graduates still there, and alone.
Moore taught the teen and could tell something wasn’t right. “I know his moods and I knew he wasn’t himself,‘’ Moore said. “I asked him, ‘Where are your people?’ and he was like, ‘Nobody’s here.‘’’
Moore told him, “I expect big things from you and it’s going to be OK.‘’ But when the cleanup was finished, and the teen was still there, Moore learned the teen didn’t have a ride home, so he offered to take him.
Once in the car, Moore asked him if he was hungry and said he’d take him anywhere he wanted to go. At first, the teen suggested a popular spot for wings, but Moore had bigger things in mind.
“He said, ‘How about Cheesecake Factory? I’ve heard about it but I’ve never been,‘’’ so with that, teacher and graduate headed to the Summit. The teen, still wearing his graduation cap, had a shrimp basket with fries, and Oreo cheesecake for dessert, which he’d never had before.
Moore, who also graduated from Bessemer City High School, said he fought back tears throughout the entire lunch. “Man, I couldn’t imagine graduating high school and my folks not being there,” he said.
He didn’t ask for details about why the teen’s family wasn’t there. “I didn’t care,” Moore said. “At that moment, I just wanted to celebrate him. It was an amazing time.”
Within hours of graduating, the teen started work at Amazon. He didn’t have a way to get there, so Moore took him and picked him up.
What turned out to be a sweet gesture then turned into something even sweeter. Moore posted about the incident on Facebook, something he says he normally doesn’t do. “These situations are common to me and I handle them on my own,” he said. “You don’t always have to show everybody or tell everybody when you do something but this one just didn’t sit well with me. I don’t know what it was.”
Moore, in the Facebook post, added his Cash App – $mooredaeducator – in case anyone wanted to be a “blessing” to the teen. As of Thursday, more than $5,000 had poured in to help him.
Moore picked him back up from work Friday morning, and then took him to a bank to open a checking account. The bulk of the money so far was put into a cashier’s check while they look for reliable transportation for the teen. He also hopes to one day save enough money to attend college.
At a time with so much bad news, Moore said both he and his student were overwhelmed by the generosity of others. “He is ecstatic. He was about to cry and I said, ‘No, you will not cry in front of me,‘’’ he said.
The moral of the story is this, he said: “We take people and life for granted. Even though we have bad, in this moment it shows that mankind is good.”