June 18, 2024

2024 Graduate Spotlight on JaVon Wilson

It’s all about community for this graduate.

JaVon is a 2024 graduate from Kalamazoo Central High School with a bright future. He is excited to start college at Michigan State University in the fall. With a passion for music, JaVon is tapping into his talents for a career path in music production and audio engineering.

Walking across the graduation stage is no small task. It takes hard work, dedication, and drive to stay on track, overcome barriers, and reach that finish line. JaVon says, “I am proud that I finished high school. It proved that I could do it. There was a lot of struggling, especially after our COVID years. But I knew I could do it—and I did.”

JaVon connected with the Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo (CIS) team in elementary school by joining the after-school program. He saw his peers having fun together and he wanted to join in the fun. “I liked the sense of community I received from the after-school program,” says JaVon, “I remained in the program because it helped develop my people skills and provided additional opportunities for growth. When I think of CIS, I think of sharing and opportunities.” Since middle school, JaVon continued to work with CIS coordinators and believes that working together—with family, CIS coordinators, and friends—is how he made it to graduation. “I wasn’t the only one going through this journey. We did it together,” says JaVon.

“I wasn’t the only one going through this journey. We did it together.”

JaVon Wilson

Freshman and sophomore years for JaVon would not be considered a “traditional” high school experience. For JaVon, these years were learning behind a computer until he went back to in-person instruction as a junior at Kalamazoo Central. When he returned, he felt like a new kid in a strange school. Most students transitioned back to in-person learning the year prior and many of his existing friends attended Loy Norrix High School, a high school across town. Not only were his grades slipping a little, due to remote learning, but he desired a sense of community at the school. JaVon says, “At first it was a lonely experience and really chaotic. But it got better, I made new friends, and connected.”

JaVon does not shy away from the work required to fulfill his dreams. When asked how he defines success, JaVon says, “Success is two steps. One, when you are stable enough to provide for yourself and your family. Two, when you give back. This keeps you in a humble state of mind.” In both the classroom and in our community, JaVon now thrives. He is in the National Honor Society, DECA, the Track Speed Club, African American Males group [African American male students at Kalamazoo Central High School who gather insight on how they can better the school and support themselves to reduce classroom failures, suspensions, and improve graduation rates], Link Crew, Kappa League, and volunteers in his church. In January, JaVon was nominated for and named the Education for the Arts (EFA) student of the month for his work and leadership in his Kalamazoo RESA class.

CIS Site Coordinator at Kalamazoo Central High School, Shondresha Wrighten, says, “This is my first year supporting JaVon with CIS services and guiding him with his secondary plans. JaVon is very friendly and focused about his future. Whatever he puts his mind to, he is sure to accomplish it.”

“Whatever he puts his mind to, he is sure to accomplish it.”

CIS Site Coordinator, Shondresha Wrighten

As a result of his hard work, JaVon graduated with his 2024 class, with a resumé full of achievements. Next year, he is aspiring to develop his skills in music, performance, and music production while attending Michigan State University. Music isn’t JaVon’s only passion. His experiences have given JaVon a deep appreciation for community and a desire to give back to community. “As a member of Kappa League, I have received so much insight into caring about those in my community. I want to focus on making a difference in the youth,” says JaVon, “In 20 years, I see myself as a world changer by simply ‘helping,’ by giving back to the community.”

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