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  • This Public Elementary Student Proudly Graduated With a General Average of 76

    Though faced with learning challenges, this boy never stopped trying.
    by Kitty Elicay .
This Public Elementary Student Proudly Graduated With a General Average of 76
PHOTO BY courtesy of Paulene Claire Puno
  • Parents can’t help but wish for their children to get good grades, partly because they know a stellar academic performance can help their child grow up successful. But as different stories and studies have shown, high grades are not everything. Success comes in many different forms.

    For Izhar Wayne Alfon, 12, success is being able to pass the sixth grade and graduate elementary with a general average of 76.

    The young boy’s story went viral in April 2019 when his sister, Paulene Claire Puno, 19, shared a photo of his report card on her Facebook wall. In her post, she introduces Wayne as her youngest adopted brother — his mom died of lupus and his father found a new family.

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    Paulene shares that Wayne has a hard time reading, writing, and speaking. He is smaller than other kids his age and preferred games that four- and five-year-olds liked to play. Wayne also couldn’t construct sentences well; he started learning how to read syllables and memorizing the alphabet when he was in grade six.

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    Paulene adds that their family doesn’t know “what his condition actually is,” but Wayne has a hard time keeping still and would prefer to play alone with stuffed toys and creating loud sound effects.

    “We tried a lot of times [to teach him], especially [after] his mother died, but every time we would try to teach him how to read or try to familiarize him with the alphabet, he would cry in front of his notebooks or study materials,” Paulene explains.

    Wayne managed to pass first to fifth grade with general averages ranging from 76 to 78. “An 80 in his card would make us really proud,” Paulene says. “We never knew he had assignments and his classmates needed to pass by the house to [give] us instructions.”

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    As the school year neared its end, Paulene’s family agreed that it would be all right if Wayne repeated sixth grade. “He would also agree and accept that,” Paulene shares. “He would always tell us, ‘Ok lang naman mag-repeat ako ‘pag di ako pumasa.’”

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    But one day, Wayne came running home, excitedly shouting, “Mama, ga-graduate daw ako!”

    “He sat down between me and our mama and he continued with, ‘Ate, totoo pala ang birthday wish kasi ang wish ko sana maka-graduate ako tapos nagkatotoo,” Paulene wrote.

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    It might come as a surprise that a student with consistent below average scores and someone who can barely read and write was allowed to graduate but for Paulene, the reason is clear: it’s because her brother Wayne did not give up and he never stopped trying.

    His family was also there to support him every step of the way. “We never scolded him, we never made him feel like he did not know anything,” Paulene shares. “We never made him feel bad about himself because we [knew] that behind those almost failing grades, behind those unexplained explanations were dreams and a great character.”

    She adds, “He is a great son and tito. When he has 20 pesos, he would buy mama’s coffee and his nephew’s biscuit, leaving him with three pesos, but he never complains. He puts what is left in an improvised coin bank, and when he feels like we have [no money] to buy rice or viand, he would always sacrifice his savings for us.”

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    In an interview with SmartParenting.com.ph via Facebook Messenger, Paulene shares that her brother is currently a grade seven student at Guisad National High School in Baguio City. After the post went viral, concerned strangers sent him aid in the form of school supplies and reading materials. Some also offered learning assessments.

    Little by little, Wayne has shown improvement. “Diretso naman na siya magbasa sa Tagalog at nag-uumpisa na rin po siyang makabasa ng English, although hindi pa ganun ka-klaro ang speaking niya,” Paulene shares.

    For as long as Wayne shows interest in studying and tries his best to understand his lessons, Paulene’s family will rally behind him. “Grades will never define him,” Paulene writes. “He may have low grades, but he has a great character, an attitude that we will never exchange for anything. He can’t explain himself clearly with words, but his actions speak for him.”

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