West changed my life
Here’s this week’s guest blog post on West Philadelphia High School, which finds out this Friday if it will be a Renaissance School or Promise Academy.
My name is Dante Boyd, I’m a junior at West Philadelphia High School, and I want to share with you my experience at West. I enrolled one year ago and I can clearly tell you West Philadelphia High School changed my life. At that point in time I had no guidance in my life. I had zero credits when I was supposed to be in the 11th grade.
I had been at different high schools: South Philly High and Overbrook. My experiences at those high schools clouded my outlook on life.
I was constantly in fights and even threatened because people either didn’t like where I was from or my appearance. I dropped out of high school both times because I felt that school wasn’t for me and the streets were. I endured personal experiences such as getting locked up and my close friend dying in front of my face due to a decision I made based on my high school experience.
When my mom begged for me to enroll back in school I took her up on her offer and I moved with her and came to West.
Since that moment, I can honestly say my life has changed dramatically.
I heard the rumors about West and thought it was just another chaotic high school, but I was wrong. The students at West accepted me even though I was from South Philly and most of them were from Southwest or West. I instantly grew a connection with the students and teachers and that’s when I realized that school was for me.
I slowly left the streets alone due to the fact that school was a safe, comfortable place and the many programs I was involved in after school such as the mock trial and credit recovery. I also found myself getting off drugs that run my life, such as weed and prescription pills.
One of the things I like best about West is the teachers.
I came from schools where the teachers didn’t care and would just give you a worksheet or something from the book to do. At West, the teachers are very interactive and offer to stay after school or come early just to help students. I felt a connection with one teacher in particular.
Mr. Malone actually showed that he cared about my life out of school as soon as he got to know my background and me. He was someone I could always come to if I had any issues and he gave me great advice which in turn made me leave the streets permanently. I saw major progress in my life, but I still was faced with a dire situation.
The school year was ending and summer was coming. I found myself thinking about going back down to South Philly for the summer and chill with my “so-called friends” and I was facing the effects of peer pressure. But the staff at West was behind me and got me an internship at the University of Pennsylvania. The job occupied me and when I got off work I would either go home or chill with my girlfriend. I found myself overcoming the peer pressure and all negative things that hurt me in the past.
People constantly say, “Without this or that, I don’t know where I would be.” I can honestly say that without West I would be lost to the streets, locked up, or worse—dead. I am now focused on passing my two AP exams in May and now, I plan on going to college.
I came to West with no direction and now I’m planning to major in broadcast journalism in college ever since my teacher Mr. Cohen took me to meet a NBC broadcaster. I want to hopefully one day be a sports broadcaster, analyzer, or journalist.
I understand West needs improvement and everyone here accepts a helping hand. The problem is we don’t fully understand the Promise Academies program and how it is going to help the relationships students have with their teachers. And I can personally say replacing the teachers that we have a connection with will not improve academic scores. They will only decrease due to the lack of trust and connections students have in their teachers.
Ultimately, I am asking the community and the District to save the West that saved me.
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