Co-Authored by Amy G.,
Antwonae B., Brian P., Chloe S., Diontae H., Felipe P., Graciela M., Hrang H.,
Jakobe P., Kayla B., Ta’Leiah G. and Sierra B. on behalf of the George
Washington Community High School Student Body

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We are the students of George Washington Community High
School, a school that has been talked down by people this year. When you talk
about George Washington and its “out of control” students, you’re talking about
us, and we’re tired of it. Most of you don’t spend your days in these halls, so
we want you to hear about our school straight from us.

We’re not a bunch of nameless kids who don’t care about our
education. We are young people with real names and real pride in our school. We
are Ta’Leiah, an 8th grader who is getting a second chance at a
solid education with Accelerate Academy (a program to help middle school
students catch up with their classmates after being retained); Graciela, a
senior who is still working to master English (her second language) but feels
supported by her classmates and teachers; Diontae, an 8th grader who
turned his attitude around and now has a summer scholarship with Indiana
Repertory Theatre; Brian, a senior working hard at the neighborhood grocery to
support himself; and Felipe, a 7th grader who doesn’t understand
what the fuss is all about! We wanted to address people who have the wrong idea
about our school.

We admit the beginning of the school year was rough. Some of
our middle school students acted out of line and some of us felt like the
school wasn’t really ready for the new school year, but the adults here have
things under control now. They’re keeping an eye on the younger kids, and the
chaos is gone. Most of us have only seen a couple of fights all semester, and
that’s saying a lot for a school with 1,000 students. Ms. Butler has done so
much to make our school a safer place for everyone, and we feel like we’re
learning more because of it!

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Back at the beginning of the year there were a couple of
racial fights, but for the most part we all get along around here. Just like
with adults, you have some groups of people who hang out with people who look
like them, but you have other groups of black, Hispanic, Asian and white
students who hang out together all the time. You might have little cliques that
talk big to each other about silly things, but most students don’t really
bother each other. And if they do, as soon as the school finds out, they have a
meeting and talk it out. That way things don’t get physical, and everybody can
just get back to class. Most of us agree – choosing to fight instead of getting
an education is just dumb!

Upperclassmen say things used to be tougher for Hispanic
students here a few years ago, but this year has been much better. We’re all
planning to stick around until graduation, and we don’t know many people who
aren’t. Most of the students we know who transferred out left school while
things were rough last year; they didn’t get a chance to see things turn around
for us this year.

It’s frustrating to have people we don’t know saying that
George Washington isn’t a good place to be. It makes the school look bad, and
it makes us look bad as students. When we hear people saying things, they need
to know it has changed over time. Not overnight, but over time. We have new
teachers and leaders in the school, and we’re getting a better education.

Adults can have their own opinions, but we feel like you
should come and at least see if it’s really true. Rumors go around all the
time; everybody’s going to talk about George Washington at the end of the day.
But nobody knows how George Washington really works unless you are here every
day. People say we aren’t learning because of fights. At one point that may
have been true for some students, but we’re past that now.

Of course, you’ll hear bad things from students who got
suspended or expelled, but they’re actually mad because they’re not here.
They’re mad because they were put out for interrupting our learning. Of course,
they’re going to talk crazy about the school, and of course, adults will
listen. George Washington’s not a bad school at all; that’s why we keep coming
back every year. Once you get to know the teachers and have a relationship with
them, you don’t ever want to end it.

We want everyone to know how much we love our school. HUB (a
community program featuring activities, open swim sessions, college prep
opportunities, and more) gives us something to do after school, and everyone is
interacting and getting along with each other better. Safer hallways help us
focus on classwork, and we think our grades will get better because of it.
We’re proud of our school and we want you to be proud too.

If you don’t believe us, come see it for yourself!

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