This article was featured in the latest issue of our newsletter, CIS Connections. Read the full issue here.
Five graduating seniors, Quinntonia, Zion, Arrion, LaStarra, and Dorian participated in a panel discussion at the CIS Board Meeting in June. All five Kalamazoo Public School students are headed to college. Here are a few insights and hard-earned wisdom they shared.
“What am I most proud of? Accepting help. I like to be independent, and I couldn’t be because of my situation. I’m proud I could accept help from CIS.”
“I liked being able to run down to [CIS Site Coordinator] Ms. Yarbrough. She always let me know where I was and what I needed to do to stay on track. Working with CIS and all my teachers, I was able to turn myself around.”
“Without CIS, school would have been way, way harder. All the support you receive makes you feel good and want to graduate and be something in life.”
“I’m looking forward to college and putting to use what [CIS Site Coordinator] Mr. Baker and [CIS Success Coach] Mr. Ollie taught me—and making my own success plan.”
What would be your advice to help students succeed in school and use the Kalamazoo Promise?
“Find a support system and keep believing in yourself.”
What barriers did you encounter to attending school and performing academically?
“I’m a last-minute kind of person… and I’d forget to turn stuff in. CIS helped get me organized.”
“I talked too much and got distracted. I was terrible my first year. Mr. Ollie helped me get it together.”
Students shared how the decision to focus in on school impacted friendships.
“I lost friends. But you only need a few good friends, even just one friend who strives for the same success.”
“When you get serious about school, you can end up bringing your friends along. They start thinking, ‘Maybe I should start getting serious, too’ and you can get on track together and get your diploma.”
“I lost friends too, but I gained new friends and we helped each other in class. Also, losing a friendship doesn’t mean you can’t gain it back.”
How can CIS be better?
“Help more students who are struggling.” –Resounding response from all panel members.