Cleveland 8th Graders Encouraged to Overcome Obstacles to Succeed

(L to R) Moderator Basheer Jones, college students Keihen Kitchen, Kendal King, Demitria McKenzie, Taylor Moore
(L to R) Moderator Basheer Jones, college students Keihen Kitchen, Kendal King, Demitria McKenzie, Taylor Moore
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A public broadcasting organization called American Graduate is hoping to reduce the number of high school drop-outs. It invited some 100 8th graders from a low-income Cleveland neighborhood to a kind of pep rally. A panel of college students with similar backgrounds encouraged them to get through high school and even plan for college. Moderator Basheer Jones told the kids to stay away from bad influences, even in their own family.

“So you don’t have to look so far outside of your homes to realize what you don’t want to be. So if you want to be great be opposite of those people that are doing things that you don’t want to do.”

That thought was heavy in the room when one pupil asked this question.

“Do you have people who made you feel like you were less than what you are and how did that affect you?”

Panelist Keihen Kitchen did. She is attending college at Cuyahoga Community College now but she struggled in elementary school with a mother battling cancer and an abusive father.

“And I’ve learned to grow from some of the things he said to me and how to deal with some of those things. And today I’m happy to be able to talk to so many people that might be dealing with some of the same things, to show them that those are things you can get over and move on and even grow from.”

The college students recognized the extra handicaps those kids carried but urged them to stay positive and overcome them.

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