When the Dallas Independent School District held its 2015 Convocation, they brought back a speaker who rocked the house seven years ago.
Dalton Sherman was a 10-year-old fifth grader when the district picked him to ask the question "Do You Believe?". His speech reminded staff to believe in students and each other and his performance earned him trips to the Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah Winfrey shows.
Dalton hit the stage in 2008, ready to motivate and inspire thousands of Dallas ISD staffers. He spent weeks memorizing a speech written by district staff yet delivered as only he could.
Watching the speech now makes Dalton laugh.
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"I'm always critiquing myself because I'm a perfectionist," he said. "But other people get inspired, and so I realize the message I gave on that day touched some people's lives."
The 17-year-old senior at Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy ranks first in a class of 10 and is pumped up about graduation next spring.
"I realize I'm moving on to another stage, another level in my life," he said. "I'm eager, anticipating it, anxious about it. I can't wait. I'm ready."
He describes himself as "a young man developing into his own, hoping to pursue a career in political science, become a lawyer and eventually get into politics."
Michael Hinojosa, Ph.D., was the superintendent back in 2008. Years later, Dalton is still a topic of conversation.
"I go all over the country, coaching superintendents and people come up and say, 'You remember that kid you introduced us to 7 years ago, Dalton?' They ask, 'Where is he now?'"
Hinojosa returned to the district as interim superintendent and knew he wanted Dalton back on the stage with him Convocation 2015. Dalton was just as eager.
"I was like, 'Sure. Let's get at it. Let's do it,'" he said.
During rehearsal, as video of Dalton played on the big screen, Dalton's mom, Donna, wiped away tears. Her third child, her baby boy, is growing up and will soon be on his own.
"He was 10 and I'm truly about to be an empty nester," she said. "This is my last, my baby and he's that, my baby. And I'm so proud of him, to see where he is today. It touched my heart."
Dalton's father, Carlos, was just as moved but quick to add he and Donna will find something to do.
"I have plans for the room," he said.
Carlos and Donna Sherman guide and coach their son, and discipline him, when needed. They said he is a teenager, after all, which comes with arguments about not staying out too late and who he's with when he's out.
They are unquestionably proud parents who raised a young man primed to succeed, a young man who still inspires, a young man still believing he can do, be, create, dream, become anything because others believe in him.
"You did some pretty awesome things for a 10, 11 year old and they're still coming," Carlos told his son. "The script hasn't been finished yet."