We would like to celebrate two neighborhood boys who are making great progress.
On Christmas day, D, a junior at Anacostia High School, called me to see if I had anything for lunch. A year ago he, with his friend J, was skipping school and smoking marijuana. In the spring, both boys started to turn around, and this fall they each had perfect attendance during the first quarter. The next goal is the honor role.
D is typical. He is smart (a MATHlete, nominated by his freshman teacher for his potential) but not with a lot of direction as he entered high school, He doesn’t know his father and probably never will. None of his parents or adults in his family has a job. J’s situation is similar. His mother does have a job, but at a pay scale 1/3 of what she needs to support all her children. Both boys often visit me for food or homework help or just to chat. Both D and J are part of the Attendance Task Force program, which has helped over 70 students in three years change their attendance habits. J suddenly told me recently, “I didn’t know I was in your program.” I told him that the day I showed up at his house to inquire about his attendance was the day he was in the program.
J’s older brother, R, never learned how to read. We met him three years ago when he was 18. He resisted our attempts to teach him and stopped coming to school. Thanks to you, RISE-DC’s WordSTAR program can now target freshmen who can’t read so that we can get to them before they start dropping out. Some of you met Tyrone, another neighborhood boy, at our opera event this summer. Tyrone was one of those lucky freshmen WordSTARS last year, and he has now raised his reading level from first to fifth grade since we started addressing his reading issues last winter.
You can read more about Tyrone here, in one of the stories in my blog. Some of the stories are sad, but I hope you all are inspired by what our students have overcome. I’m sure the story of D and J is not over.
I like to tell our students that behind me are hundreds of people supporting us with encouragement and energy. Thank you for being RISE-DC’s support system and allowing us to have so much to celebrate this year.