In Chesterfield, there are approximately 5,000 high school seniors from year to year and roughly 8.5% of those students do not graduate on-time. After a year of tremendous stress and crisis, there are real indicators that this number will increase. That is why we have kicked it into high gear to support the class of 2021, and their peers who will follow them. For the students we serve, the ultimate goal is graduating on time. With the right interventions, wrap-around supports, and relationships, delivered by our dedicated CIS Site Coordinators, our students can and will reach graduation, despite the many challenges stacked against them.
Below are two stories of perseverance – the stories of students overcoming challenges to become graduates alongside their peers!
Abdurrahman, L.C. Bird High School
Abdurrahman (a.k.a. AB) is a senior at L.C. Bird High School. He is an aspiring hip hop artist and has already recorded several songs. AB’s senior year has been quite eventful with many barriers completely outside of his control, including the death of his best friend. Despite the many obstacles that AB has faced, he is persevering and staying on track to graduate in June. Ms. Oxendine (CIS Site Coordinator at Bird HS) has been instrumental in AB returning to the school building for in-person learning, by doing weekly phone calls and text messages to him, along with bi-weekly home visits to encourage and motivate him. AB is an inspiring young man with a bright future ahead!
Ammari and Jamari, Meadowbrook High School
In January of 2019, Ammari and Jamari, returned to Chesterfield after a period of time living outside of the state. Their return to the area came after some hardships, including being homeless. Thanks to a previous guardian, they settled back in and began attending Meadowbrook High, where CIS Site Coordinator Cecelia Greenwood has been wrapping supports around them ever since. She is also closely connected to their guardian, helping with their needs at home. “Having both fallen behind in school due to the adversities they faced, the twins are determined to graduate on time,” Ms. Greenwood shared. After the school day, the two are both taking night classes to catch up, while Ms. Greenwood advocates for and supports them in every way possible!
Julisse, Carver College & Career Academy
When Julisse came to Carver College and Career Academy, she was accustomed to learning in a certain way. At Carver, an alternative high school in Chesterfield, an independent learning style is fostered. This new way of learning was an adjustment for Julisse – she had to learn to be, in part, her own educator. With the help of Mrs. McGrath (school counselor) and Ms. Thompson (CIS-C Site Coordinator), Julisse was able to prioritize her goals and adapt to her new school environment. When the pandemic began, Ms. Thompson knew that Julisse needed some extra support. She conducted multiple home visits to provide Julisse encouragement and support, and even brought art supplies to help with her anxiety about Covid and virtual school. Now, as she reaches the end of her high school career, she looks back at her time at Carver with great positivity. “I really felt like Carver was the first school I went to where I felt supported and that Ms. Thompson and the other school staff really cared about my success. I felt like they really listened to me, found out my interests, and gave me things to help me with my goals.” Julisse wants to make her family proud. She also wants young girls who have been through the stuff she has been through to look at her and say, “I can do it too.” Most importantly, she wants to be a role model for her little sister. As a graduate, Julisse has many interests she hopes to pursue, including activism, social justice and equity, and a career in Social Work or Political Science.
De’Andre, L.C. Bird High School
De’Andre is a senior at L.C. Bird High School. Born in Sumter, South Carolina he moved to Chesterfield in 2017. While many of his peers struggled with virtual learning, De’Andre really thrived. He did exceptionally well with keeping up with his school work and attending his virtual classes daily during the pandemic. Between his mom and his CIS Site Coordinator, Ms. Oxendine, who both pushed him to stay on track, De’Andre will graduate in June! His next step is the United States Army – where he hopes to have the opportunity to explore new places, gain greater direction and life experiences.