He found little purpose in school but decided to finish
Students who have left school - stories and statistics
by Ellen Lempereur
He walked into the room, took off his hat, and introduced himself with a firm handshake – not exactly the behavior one would expect of an “out-of-school youth.”
Actually, Mykel (his full name is being withheld at the request of the agency through which he was contacted) never envisioned he'd fall into that category.
But as a freshman last year, he was turned off from school. In school, he explained, “I'm not really challenged academically and I'm not really learning what I want.”
As a chronically absent high-school student, he was summoned to court on a truancy charge. Raised in a North Philadelphia neighborhood as the oldest of eight siblings, Mykel, 15, called the court appearance a “wake-up call.”
“I realized I was hurting my family and my mom,” he said. “So I had to start doing what was right and go back to school.”
Mykel, who lives with his mother and a younger brother (his parents recently separated), was participating in the truancy intervention program at service agency Congreso de Latinos Unidos when he spoke with the Notebook about the reasons he stopped going to school last year.
Like any normal teenager, Mykel likes being busy. “School,” he said, “had the same boring classes year after year. I didn't like sitting around the same place with the same people every day.”
He summed up his classes at Edison High School in one word: “boring.”
Block scheduling, Mykel claimed, allowed for an hour and 30 minutes of mis used time and “busy-work.” Instead of having projects or hands-on activities, he was handed “worksheet after worksheet after worksheet,” he said.
Finding little purpose or challenge in the academic setting, Mykel spent his time “outside, roaming the streets” with older neighborhood buddies.
After a few months of sneaking around to avoid his mother, who is currently unemployed and seeking work, Mykel made the decision to return to school.
Mykel's mother herself did not complete high school, and he said, “That's why she wants me to graduate so bad.”
Mykel has made plans to return to the ninth grade this fall. He said he hopes eventually to switch schools, and he expressed interest in going to a community college when he graduates. “I like science,” he said. “I think I could make a nice scientist.”
In the meantime he plans to participate in an organized activity such as Art Club to keep himself challenged and off the streets.
“If we had more activities, I think more kids would stay focused on school,” he observed.