THE TEST OF THEIR LIVES

EXIT EXAMS MAY WHIP AMERICA'S SCHOOLS INTO SHAPE, BUT SOME GOOD KIDS PAY A HEAVY PRICE

Commencement is not an end, it is a beginning, graduates around the country are being assured this spring. But for Catherine Cockrell's dreams and aspirations, her high school graduation ceremonies may have marked the beginning of the end.

Denied the chance to graduate with her classmates at Paris (Texas) High School, she attended the event anyway and bravely joined their celebration. "It's kind of hard," she confessed. "I'm the oddball. Everybody else has a diploma, and I don't."

Cockrell went to all her classes, did all her homework, earned all her credits. But, like just one other of her 162 classmates,...

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