Meet Omarion: All the Right Ingredients

Omarion Morgan, a seventh grader at Maple Street Magnet School for the Arts, wants to use The Kalamazoo Promise® to go to college—either Michigan State or Western Michigan University—to become a lawyer or a teacher. “But I noticed at the start of the school year my grades were bad and I wanted to get them up.”

When Omarion puts his mind to something, through effort and hard work, he makes it happen. Emily Demorest, CIS After School Coordinator at Maple Street says that this year “Omarion has made some major changes in his behavior and commitment to school. He has learned to control his impulses and be a role model for other students. It is a joy to have him in the CIS After School Program.”

Omarion first became involved in CIS at Washington Writers Academy. Having time to work on homework within the CIS After School program, which is funded through the Michigan Department of Education (21st Century Community Learning Centers), has been “what’s helped me the most…And people like Ms. Kelsey really help me.” [Kelsey Newsome is a youth development worker with CIS.] “I’m getting better grades now. I am learning more. I’m doing all my homework, getting the opportunity to get it done during after school really helps. I don’t get sent down to RTC—that stands for Responsible Thinking Class—like I used to. And I’m starting to stay on task.”

Omarion is finding that the mindfulness techniques he’s learned this year as part of the CIS after school program are “helping me learn more when I’m in school. Mindfulness” explains Omarion, “is really about helping kids deal with their emotions, like anger. Sometimes these are hard to control. You get mad because somebody’s arguing with you. Mindfulness helps you not to hit back. To tell a teacher, instead…I’m also learning how to relax and that’s important.” So, whenever he starts feeling stressed or angry, “I just close my eyes and take deep breaths. I calm myself down.”

Omarion highly recommends Maple Street as “the place to send your kids to school. Kids can do well here because it’s a comfortable environment to be in.” Just what makes it a comfortable learning environment? “We have a good principal, teachers who make learning fun, and we have CIS.”

His favorite subject? Omarion can’t pick just one. During the school day he particularly enjoys math, social studies, language arts, and English. Cooking club, music, and mindfulness are some of his favorite activities offered within the CIS after school program.

When it comes to a favorite teacher, he is hard pressed to pick only one. “We have really good teachers here. One of my favorites, though, is Mr. [Peter] Aranda. He is funny and he does a good job of teaching us social studies. And Mrs. [Deborah] Jackson. She makes math fun. And Mrs. [Debra] McKee. She teaches English and she’s really nice.”

Omarion Morgan has all the right ingredients for being a successful student. The most important ingredient is the caring adults who surround him at both his home and in school. He is embracing the resources offered to him and working on being the best student he can be.

Sparks begin in many ways.