What do you do when someone tells you that you won’t make it? That what you want to do can’t be done? At least not by you.
There are two options, of course. You can listen to the doubters and let their negativity affect the course of your life, or you can fight, work hard, believe in yourself, and create your own destiny.
For many at Ballou High School in Washington, D.C., college was not a foregone conclusion. For many reasons — life, family, work — students would not graduate, and that would be the end of their learning career.
This year’s senior class decided that they wanted to go for more. They wanted to do what, to many, was unthinkable. And they wanted to do it together.
In the Spring of 2016, the soon-to-be seniors got together and made a promise to themselves and each other. During their senior year, they would all apply to college.
That alone would be a landmark in a school district that has struggled to meet students’ needs. The school had the second lowest graduation rate of any high school in the district.
This could be because their students scored poorly on standardized aptitude tests. That could be because the district lost 200 teachers since August with one quarter of those exiting Ballou.
This just goes to show how stacked the odds were against the Class of 2017. But as Han Solo told C3PO, “Never tell me the odds.”
When each of the 170 students in the senior class crossed the stage at graduation this year, they were given two pieces of paper: a diploma and a college acceptance letter.
WUSA reported graduate Me’Ashja Hamilton felt the power was in the collective belief the class had in themselves. “Everybody just, they was betting on us failing, and we all came together and we graduated.”
“You just have to give them a chance. The opportunity to do better and you will so that a lot of students in Southeast in particular can do great things,” Hamilton proudly said!