Meet LaStarra: Awakening to Success

LaStarra entered Loy Norrix High School with ambition and was looking forward to building on the success she had experienced at Milwood Magnet Middle School. There, she participated in several extracurricular activities including being a member of the pep squad. She was solid academically, even earning a high school credit for Computer Applications which gave her a head start on high school graduation requirements.

Regrettably, the tides turned when LaStarra made the too often precarious transition to high school. Over the next two years, when she should have accumulated 15 credits, she earned a mere three. To make matters worse, her grade point average plundered to a disappointing .08.

During the first trimester of 2013/14, LaStarra says she “woke-up,” realizing her dire situation. “I started thinking school was only fun and games. I was hanging around the wrong group of friends, which made me lose focus of my grades and the ultimate goal of graduating on time.”

But how could she turn things around? How could she make up for lost time and reclaim the academic success she once knew? With her mother’s encouragement, she enrolled in the new CIS Success Coach program at her school. The CIS Success Coach program assists students in areas of reading, math, attendance and behavior with the ultimate goal of increasing on-time graduation among students.

LaStarra sat down with O’Neal Ollie, the CIS Success Coach at Loy Norrix, and based on the goals she shared, and with input from her mother, they mapped out a plan for success. This individualized plan helped make the impossible seem possible, one that could help her rebuild her student transcripts. LaStarra immediately began to diligently follow her road map and the hard work is paying off. She has made tremendous strides. Since the 2013/14 school year began, LaStarra has almost doubled her credits and increased her overall G.P.A by nearly two letter grades. She is enrolled in five daily classes and is carrying a 2.6 G.P.A. She expects to have a total of 15 credits by the end of the 2013/14 school year.

Part of LaStarra’s road map to success involves recovering credits by utilizing the NovaNET online curriculum, using after school time and school breaks to do the necessary course work. So, when Spring break arrived, and her CIS Success Coach checked in to see how she was progressing, LaStarra was just where she said she’d be: at the computer station at Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU), which is part of the Kalamazoo Regional Education Service Agency (KRESA), and one of the sites for NovaNET. O’Neal was impressed. “Together, we were able to plot out a map of success; but it is LaStarra who is doing the hard work. Seeing her determination and follow through with the plan we have outlined shows me she has a lot of initiative and she’s making sound decisions. Her future looks bright.”

LaStarra, too, is optimistic about her future. For the first time, she is academically eligible to participate in high school extracurricular activities. She has been selected as a member of the Loy Norrix Cheer Squad. “It really feels good to get good grades and play sports. I’m so proud of myself. Every day, I glow a little on the inside just to know I’ve awakened myself to the most important things in life–from jokes and games, to hard work and success. I’m so excited about going to college and fulfilling my dream. I know if I don’t do it for myself, it will never be done.”

Sparks begin in many ways.