Watching your peers squeak by

This post was written by Diamond Broussard, a junior at Skyline High School. -Katy

dbroussardresize1.jpgAt school, I am surrounded by the same peers, many of whom I know personally, that I have known since my freshman year. Yet it still surprises me how some of these students get by. Here I am, seizing opportunities given to us students by administrators and other people, taking the time to make sure that I am fulfilling my responsibilities as a student. Meanwhile, a few of my friends are slacking off, enjoying their social lives, shopping or going to the movies every weekend or working at part time jobs — all the while bringing home mediocre grades and achieving very little.

Though I should be used to seeing students settle for less than they should and succeeding by doing just the “minimum requirements”, it bothers more and more each day. While I do not have much of a say in my friends’ educations, I wish that many of them would challenge themselves as I do because many of them do not realize just how bright they really are. Why won’t they go above and beyond in their education?

Today, many Oakland youth are about “hustlin'” and “gettin’ money.” When will our students realize that one of the keys to success and financial stability is through their education? Many students also don’t even mind messing up in high school because they can just “go to a JC [junior college] for two years and the transfer.” If this is the thought on our graduating high schoolers’ minds, then educators and administrators have not done enough in just educating students- they should also be teaching students how to get to the levels of success of many of their idols.

I guess until they realize their potential, I will continue to hopefully inspire my peers and friends to do better in their education, and to “bust my butt” in my classes.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Nextset

    Uh Oh! You’re growing up! You’re beginning to notice the differences between you and the other students.

    Most of us remember this happening to us. At some point you begin to understand, You can’t take them with you.

    If you have what it takes you will be leaving your high school friends behind. Later in life you won’t even recognize them or identify with some of them. And right now that scares you because they are your “society” and there is a feeling of loss or impending loss that is unnerving.

    You will get used to it.

    Relatively few high school students make it to university level, most landing between HS drop out and “some college” or trade school. Those that go on to 4 year schools and to grad school after that are entering rarified air. And if we are talking about minorities, the “loss” is stronger. Funny how I see some of the old Jack and Jill crowd at professional meetings 40 years later… And now I understand the rationale behind our parents dragging us across the entire East Bay to those meetings.

    Diamond, forget about trying to work the lives of the other kids. Focus on you, and start joining and attending cross-school organizations of students like you with your interests. It really makes the transition easier. What you are describing is a feeling of impending loss. Don’t fight it, you can’t live other’s lives.

    You will find that you haven’t yet met your real friends, co-workers, your adult “society”. You will be meeting them in college.

  • cranky teacher

    Every kid is different, but I see a few different groupings:

    — the kids that don’t think they can do the work, but could if they developed confidence/faith in themselves. Some of these kids will be turned around, but many are destined to struggle with self-destructive tendencies unless they find BIG help (i.e., 12 step, religion, a club, a hobby like computers, etc.).

    — the kids that don’t think they can do the work and are, at least somewhat, correct: They are so far behind and/or not that sharp that they have gone past the point of no return in their education. (We are supposed to pretend no such child exists, btw).

    — the kids who could do the work and pretty much know it, but are bored and/or lazy. Many of these kids will kick into gear once they are kicked out of the house, or are stimulated by college classes or a challenging job.

  • Nextset

    In my experience the 12th grade (unlike the earlier ones) saw our class fragmenting with some students taking afternoon college classes, others getting into work, and in general people started going their own ways with outside interests/extracurricular activities becoming more important than before. People stopped seeing each other as much and got “busy”.

    I believe in looking back that we were actually growing apart. Some people in particular kept growing and others continued to run around trying to look and act like they were still in 10th grade.

    If Diamond thinks this process is disconcerting – it can happen in families also. Siblings or cousins begin to split off with one being a criminal/druggie, one being unskilled labor, one going to skilled trade school, one to the Marines and one heading to University. The differences between formerly similar and close people can get to the point that in a few years they don’t want to see each other much anymore. And everybody gets new best friends.

    The best way to proceed is to work on yourself, your needs and plans, and not worry about others with different interests. It all sorts out soon enough.

    You are being sorted.

    To answer Diamond’s question about when will our youth realize… Well, most of them won’t. And you can’t make them. They get to live their own lives and that doesn’t include higher education.

    Higher Ed is for the few, not the many.

  • Della Singleton

    Hey Diamond!

    Your comments above are actually true. I can recall times when we have had chats about our friends who we know had the potential to be better students but they did not even attempt to do well. I feel that the problem begins at the head, some parents do not push their children as they should. I am not asserting that parents should be strict and hard core in pushing their children way above their abilities. But they should exemplify an interest in their child’s well being, which is apart of making sure that their child can participate in obtaining the best education possible.

    All students aren’t students like you and I, because we love school and we know that we have to acquire the best grades that we can since we desire to go to college. But of course we know when teachers have surpassed our limits by giving us entirely too much home work when we have 6 classes in total and we take Advanced and Honor Placement courses as well. So what has affected our fellow classmates? It is their own mind sets. Many of our fellow classmates do not strive for their best, they are undetermined and they are satisfied with gaining Ds in their classes, because Ds are passing according to high school standards. Do not mistake me but many of the youth, not only in Oakland but in America are more focused on having fun during their youth, rather than working hard and challenging themselves to become successful in life. Yes, of course everyone desires to work so they can receive money but I have figured that my level of high achievements as a student will pay off in my future.

    As I state my last thoughts, I believe that there are many lazy heads at school disturbing students who want to gain an education but I believe that there should be some type of movement. Students, parents, and teachers can work together to stress the importance of education in our schools and in our communities so we as students can be on one accord. I believe that it should be all of our responsibilities to encourage our fellow students to strive for their education!

  • Della Singleton

    To Nextset’s last comment you stated much about how one has to let the youth live their lives while you achieve in your own. But I believe that that exact belief is very biased and selfish. No one has gotten to the top with out a helping hand, and I beleieve that everyone should be concerned about our fellow classmates. Some don’t even have the proper guidance or training, so sometimes it is only partially the student’s fault. There are too many pessimists in this world and not enough optimists. I mean today whites sit on the same bus as blacks etc. wow isn’t that ironic? Some blacks did not contribute to the Civil Right’s Movement because they believed that what we have today could never be possible but here we are. I know for a fact, that THERE’S HOPE in our Youth!!!

  • Nextset

    Gee, Della: Life is not about hope, life is definitely not about imposing your values on other people and calling it “help”. Life is not about expecting other people to live up to your desires and not theirs. What you are getting into here is CO-DEPENDENCE.

    I assume you are a high school student as well as Diamond. I’m far beyond those days. When I was young it was easy to make assumptions and act on them. Time shows us what was a reasonable assumption and what was just youthful folly.

    You don’t go to school and presume to tell the other kids what they need to do. Not your job as a student or a peer. I’m only preaching because I’ve had my taste.

    If somebody asks you for a suggestion or assistance with planning, fine. Not likely what we are talking about. Your job as a high school student doesn’t include trying to save everybody else while they are living their lives. Lead by example and if the sheep don’t follow, you are not in the sheep-saving business. Do your own work and make your own plans and get out of the lives of the other students – don’t run around dissaproving what they are and what they do, nobody asked you.

    Once you finish high school you will go where people like you go – military, higher education – or career. You will find other people more to your liking later in life, not in high school.