Braden River High senior doesn't let challenges keep him from graduating.
It was in third grade at William H. Bashaw Elementary School when Justin Alderman was given the bad news.
Because he was struggling with a stutter and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, which causes hyperactivity and impulsivity, his father, Scott Alderman, set him up with a tutor for extra help. The third grader spent extra hours at Bashaw with a teacher to keep pace.
He even attended summer school to advance with his peers.
But Scott Alderman eventually had to tell his son he would need to repeat third grade.
“I was shocked, and I was really upset,” Justin Alderman said.
Did all the hard work make a difference? Would he ever be a good student?
When Justin Alderman walks across the LECOM Park field to receive his high school diploma June 2 during Braden River High School’s graduation ceremony, he will remember all those struggles, and he will know he overcame them all.
The disappointment of being held back a year pushed Alderman to do everything he could to move forward academically despite any challenges he faced.
“It just made it easier for me to work harder and do my absolute most to succeed in life, and I haven’t failed since then,” Alderman said.
Scott Alderman said his son had been struggling academically since preschool, but he had amazing teachers at Bashaw Elementary and Carlos E. Haile Middle School in Florida and East Paulding Middle School in Georgia to help him. He switched schools in middle and high school at times because his mother, Michelle Wiley, lives in Georgia.
When Laura Alderman, who is Justin Alderman’s stepmother, met him seven years ago, she said her stepson had a severe stutter that would bring him to tears.
“I remember him saying, ‘Please make it go away,’ and it broke my heart,” Laura Alderman said.
With the help of speech therapists, the family saw Justin Alderman’s stutter dissipate.
“He basically told himself, ‘I’m not going to let this defeat me, I’m going to defeat it,’” Laura Alderman said.
During his sophomore year at Braden River High School, Alderman discovered he was a hands-on learner, meaning he performed better when he was able to participate in activities to learn concepts rather than passively reading a book or viewing a presentation.
Scott Alderman said he would see his son working two to three hours on an assignment that would take an average student an hour to complete.
“The last four years have been a battle for him to get to this point, but the reward is when he walks across that stadium and he receives that diploma,” Scott Alderman said. “A few of the kids he went to school with at Haile didn’t graduate. They dropped out. He said, ‘I’m not going to be like that.’ I’m proud of that. He wants to make something of himself.”
Besides his family’s support, Alderman found additional support from his JROTC instructors, Lt. Col. James Bradin and Company Sgt. Maj. Matt Collis.
“They helped me push past my limits and showed me that I can do more than what I think I can do,” he said. “They wanted to make sure we were ready for life after high school, and it’s all thanks to them that I am. If it wasn’t for them, I don’t know who I would have become.”
The senior said every struggle has made him strong and has helped him persevere.
“I have been so fortunate to watch Justin grow and mature to the outstanding young man he has become,” said Sharon Scarbrough, the principal at Braden River High. “He works tirelessly at school, is very involved with JROTC and works a part time job. I am so proud of him and look forward to seeing the great things he will achieve in the future.”
He is looking forward to building a successful future, and that will start at Southern Regional Technical College in Thomasville, Georgia.
“I had serious doubts about finishing high school, but in the end, I pulled through,” Alderman said. “Knowing that I’m going to be able to walk with my whole class makes me feel like I’m starting a new chapter in my life that I can’t mess up because I’ve worked so hard.”
“He has a whole beautiful future ahead of him,” Laura Alderman said. “He beat the struggle.”
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