Bright future for progressive students

by Joycelyne Fadojutimi

            Most high school graduates take their diplomas, move their tassels and push on into adulthood either through working careers or conventional college education, but not all. Forty-one members of the upcoming graduating class of Longview High School had the choice of participating in the International Baccalaureate program or the Longview Early College High School and Dual Credit program. They took the latter option.

            These outstanding young scholars will willingly admit it was not an easy row to hoe. Only half of those who started the program completed it. The rest tried hard but fell short.

            “I am proud of my classmates,” said eighteen-year-old Kristian Shumaker. “We climbed this ladder of success together.”

            He saw the value of this early start on a more-promising-than-usual trip through higher education.

            “College is important, and we had the opportunity to start college at Longview High School,” he said. “This is a blessed opportunity. It was free. To me this is beautiful.”

            Kristian worked very hard as a baseball-playing student athlete. He took third place in the Longview Rotary 4-Way test speech competition that Rotarians use to see how they will conduct their lives. The Four Way Test is as follows:

            1. Is it the truth?

            2. Is it fair to all concerned?

            3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?

            4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

            Along with his high school diploma, Kris is going home with an associate of arts degree from Kilgore Junior College, and then some. He has been taking welding classes to give him a head start on welding engineering studies he will be pursuing at Southern Arkansas University. An impressive 12 welding hour credits will transfer for his major, and another 30 hours are to transfer into his degree.

            Mara Cooks credits instructor Carla Williams for helping her earn her own associates of sciences degree, and for assisting other students’ success. Mara tells how prior to Williams’ arrival just two administrators ran the program, and neither did justice to the curriculum. Some students even considered dropping out of the program, but once Williams took time from her duties as assistant principal for Longview Early College High School and Dual Credit and commenced directing the studies–everything changed.

            “She will text you every day. She cared. She wanted us to be successful. She kept telling us about college, and how and why we must be ready,” said Mara. “She believes in us, and brags about us. This made us want to work very hard, and we did. Now we are set to go to college, and we are ready, thanks to Mrs. Williams.”

            Mara is just one student who speaks glowingly about what she and her classmates are accomplishing. Freshman Michael Traylor successfully tested to enter the program.

            “It was hard, but a lot of people helped coach me and I made it in the program,” he said. “The best part is that Mrs. Williams took the initiative to give us extra stuff to do, and make sure we were doing it. Today we understand what college is about, but I must say this has been a crazy ride.”

            Crazy? Maybe “exciting” would better describe it, for participating students worked at the demanding curriculum, took part in various extracurricular activities, attended standard classes, and then visited colleges. It took expert time management because there was absolutely no time to waste. For some, it also included lifestyle change.

            Akarrius Boyd considered himself a problem child while attending Hudson Prep in his earlier days.

            “I was bad all through, but I made good grades because my mom and dad asked me to not bring home “C’s,” he said. “Then in 8th grade the light came on, and I knew I had to change. I changed my attitude and my bad ways because I love God.”

            He noted how, as he entered 10th grade, the required essays made passing more difficult. He consistently made “A’s” in standard classes and made them easily. This made him yearn for the challenge of the Dual Credit program. His motivation is personal and powerful.

            “As an African-American male, I wanted to go above and beyond and do my very best,” he said. “I want to be the very best in anything I do going forward.”

            Akarrius is graduating with his associates of arts degree in preparation for a major in business economics and a minor in languages. He, too, lauds Williams’ influence because “she never gave up, but continues to push and encourage.”

            Another bright young mind, Kalyn Anderson, went yet further in extolling the invaluable contribution Williams has made.

            “It was not easy. Math was not easy. The TSI test was not easy, but Mrs. Williams kept telling us that nothing good is easy,” she said. “Mrs. Williams sent me to tutorials to get help, and I passed. She did not give up on me. She made sure that we worked together as a group, helping each other where we needed help. We did not get much sleep. What you see here today is a team effort. Thanks to Mrs. Williams the end is sweet.”

            In his sophomore year, basketball player Dijon Maxie decided to try out the IB program.

            “But the college hours seemed more attractive to me,” he said. “Who would not like to get a college degree in high school and take the hours to college? I do not have to worry about many classes in college. It is done, right here at Longview High School.”

            When Dijon graduates later this month he will be accepting both his high school diploma and his associates of arts degree.

            As a working student, Monica Lonzano was paying for her own classes. This meant they were something special to her, and she took them very seriously. This situation in which participants must juggle both high school and college classes, jobs and extracurricular activities means that the Dual Credit program is not for everyone. Only the most able and dedicated need apply.

            Lobo wide receiver Kamden Perry is typical. He aims to attend the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, and his current schedule reflects his willingness to work hard. On top of all his other activities and studies, he works for Divine Catering, often not going to bed before 1:00 or 2:00 a.m.

            “I was tired most of the time,” he said. “I will sometimes take a 45-minute nap before football practice. There was no time to waste. I had to make every minute count.”

            Dual Credit scholar Jayden James-Rollins also is a footballer. This defensive end ripped his anterior cruciate ligament, ending his tenure on the gridiron. He turned his attention to his studies and will be graduating with 45 college hours that will count when he enters the University of Houston.

            All these dedicated, above-average students agree that hard work is worth the effort, and Williams was instrumental in impressing this vital lesson on each of them. They are anxious to get started on their college days and their futures.

Congratulations: Aguirre Luis Eduardo, AA.  Anderson Kalyn, AS. Baeza Celina, AS. Barnes Rynie, AS. Botkin Shadda, AA. Boyd Akarrius, AA. Cooks Mara, AS. Cortez Deborah, AA. Davis Margie, AA. Diez Kimberly, AS. Dixon Kysean, AS. Dixon Tavion, CORE. Dominguez Angela, AA. Eidson Devin, CORE. Elder N’Dia, CORE. Ford Ghyntra, AS. Frazier Leanna, CORE. Garcia-Sanchez Arianna, AA.  Harry Joshua, CORE COMPLETE. Hawkins Alaiya, AA.  Hodges Matthew, CORE. Hutchings Coshyra, CORE. Irving Alexis, CORE. Jackson Ma’Tasia, CORE. James-Rollins Jayden M. AA. Johnson Garrett, AA. Kelly Erin, AS.  King Ananda, CORE. Lampkins Juvarrs, CORE COMPLETE. Lozano Monica, AS.  Lunch Brycelyn, AA.  Martinez Laura, AS. Maxie Dijon, AA. McCarty Rachael, AS. Menefee Bra’Tarious, CORE. Nelson Riley, AA. Perry Kamden, CORE COMPLETE.  Piedra Moreno Tania, AS. Polk Ainsley, CORE. Reyes Prisila, AS. Rojas Jackeline, AA. Serrato Natalie, AA. Shaw Key’yon’Tae, AA.  Shumaker Kristian, AA. Smith Marquel, AA. Thompson Mark, AA. Traylor Michael, AA. Vance Morgan, AS. Wells Daiton, AA. Williams Alyssa, AA. Williams Roy, CORE.