Graduations are exciting times and meaningful milestones for the graduates, their families, friends and faculty. The special celebrations and congratulations acknowledge how hard every graduate works getting to the day when he or she walks across the stage to receive the well-earned diploma and applause. For some, the journey is far harder than for others.
Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Mariners Christian School 8th grade graduation. They were young men and women of high character who are sure to shine in high school as bright lights while they learn, grow and become who God designed them to be.
During the ceremony, there was a video with pictures of each of the graduates, one from younger years followed by a more recent one. In between the time those pictures were taken, most of the students followed a fairly normal progression of accomplishments as each advanced from one grade to the next.
But that wasn’t the case for Max Trane. When Max was 6 years old, enjoying his final weeks of kindergarten at MCS, he fell out of a second-story window, landing on his head. Max had just finished dinner with his family in their Newport Beach apartment and he had run upstairs to play with his sisters. Max heard children playing in the alley below and called to them, rattling the window screen to get their attention. Max’s father, Byron, heard the screen hit the pavement, ran upstairs, looked out the open window and saw Max motionless on the ground below. Max’s skull had splintered into several pieces and though the paramedics arrived quickly, there was little hope that he would survive.
Byron and Frances prayed while Max was rushed to the emergency room. So did family and friends, as well as their church community and the MCS families, and soon Max was the topic of prayer chains around the world. Those on-going prayers were answered, and after three weeks in the hospital, Max spent five weeks at an in-patient rehabilitation center.
For the next six years, Byron and Frances drove thousands of miles, taking Max to many different physical and educational therapies since he couldn’t attend school.
“His attitude through all those years of treatment was absolutely amazing,” Frances said. “He was so gracious as we kept encouraging him to push onward. And just when I was praying for God to show me the right music therapy, He directed me to Stowell Learning Center, which has been phenomenal for Max.”
Stowell Learning Center is a tutorial center that helps those with learning challenges to become successful learners. Frances faithfully drove Max to the center in Chino for a year, but fortunately the center recently opened another location in Irvine.
“The people at Stowell have really been the answers to our prayers to help me get caught up in school,” Max explained. “They are really fun and caring, and basically, I’ve gone from 4th grade math to pre-algebra in a year’s time.”
Because of Max’s progress, he was able to go back to MCS part-time for eighth grade, graduating with the classmates he’d first met there in kindergarten. The week before graduation, there was an awards ceremony and Jeff Williamson, the middle school principal, gave awards to students who excelled in different subjects. The final, and highest, award was the Principal’s Award.
“It is a great honor to recognize Max Trane with the Principal’s Award,” Jeff said. “Each year I look for a student who stands out for a quality that deserves recognition. This year, Max is that student.”
Jeff spoke about how thrilled everybody was that Max returned to MCS and that he was a reminder that God does miracles.
“Max, besides reminding us of who God is in our lives, you are inspiring to each of us as you demonstrate what it means to have determination,” Jeff continued.
After Jeff finished speaking about Max’s determination and God’s goodness, Max received a standing ovation.
“It was such an honor to see him receive the award and, even more, to see him receive a standing ovation initiated by his peers,” Byron said.
“I felt really honored and special,” Max said. “I can now actually see what God has in store for me, to tell people that even though things might be really tough, it’s worth working hard. Everybody struggles in something. Whatever happened in the past has happened and you can’t rewind it back. Ask God what He wants you to do and how He wants to help. Persevere, push through and pray. Be excited about the future and what God has for you. He’s a good God and it will be great.”
Cindy can be reached at [email protected]