Velma Woods

   November 12th, 2022             Blog

duGard Communications Presents

The Beat Won’t Stop: Gratitude Ceremony

Velma Woods

Pearl-Cohn Comprehensive High School was better because she was in it.

Each student was important, but I felt like she was always rooting for me. 

Ms. Woods is petite, kind and about her business…in high school, it would always tickle me to see her move into her ‘professional sista-girl’ when you were not doing what you were supposed to be doing. As a guidance counselor at an inner-city high school, she saw the lives of her students from all walks of life, but she always treated us like we were her own. She saw the good in each one of us…and wouldn’t let us forget it. 

My Junior year in high school, I was raped. Some random dude as I was walking home from cheerleading practice…didn’t know him, but he pulled a gun and drug me down the steps. 

So, I was out of school for a while. When I got back, I did what most people do, go through a grieving/anger process and in the midst of that I reacted in ways that didn’t represent the previous Perri. Nothing drastic…but it started showing up in classes where I’d had a stellar record. As I neared the end of my Senior year, things were more tenuous than I realized. ISS, skipping school and class were not my norm, and our ‘traditional’ teachers did not approve of a Valedictorian like me…with behavior issues.  Ms. Woods and my mother fought tooth and nail for me to be treated with understanding, all while trying to get me to do what was right, as well.  But, I was required to submit my valedictory speech, to ensure I didn’t go off script. Ms. Woods (and my mother) were livid but the alternative was that I wouldn’t receive the distinction. I didn’t understand any of this, until much later…but my mother always shared that Ms. Woods was one of my biggest advocates, that she fought for me when it seemed like no one else would. 

I am truly grateful for Ms. Woods and the countless number of times she stood up for kids that look like me.  “It doesn’t matter where you came from, it matters where you are going,” she’d say to me…look Ms. Woods!