Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Urban Youth International Journalism Program in partnership with Paul Robeson High School. The UYIJP is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation.
“I don’t like this school, Robeson is boring, class is boring, and teachers are boring, they are teaching baby work and stuff that is not on our level or getting us ready for college.” said Jameesha Shields, 17, a senior who has been at Paul Robeson since her freshman year.
My name is Tatiana Minter and I’m a senior at Paul Robeson High School. Paul Robeson High School is a 4-year school located in the Englewood neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois. It mainly is fully of African American students and a mix of African American and white teachers. Seems like every time I say ‘Paul Robeson,’ the first thing that comes out of someone’s mouth is “Why you go to that school?” or “It be crackin’, don’t it?” I know Robeson has a bad reputation with many people who don’t even attend the school but since I do, I thought it would be a good idea to tell my story and those of my classmates.
I’ve been at Robeson for a year in a half and it is a whole different experience from my last school. Before Robeson, I went to a North Side school by the name of Roger C Sullivan which was very diverse and in a better environment. Robeson is full of African American students and in my opinion, I think there is too much fighting over materialistic things and not enough of a sense of other cultures. Too many kids disrupt classrooms and then complain “I’m not learning anything” or “That teacher isn’t teaching me nothing.” Too many teachers aren’t really teaching.
Throughout my year and a half in this school I’ve been in 2 situations where a Robeson student tried to rob me for my phone. One thing I could say is the staff of Robeson did a good job of taking care of that situation. I think that people judge Robeson based off of the location and the fights but let’s be real: Every school has fights and there’s nothing that can be done about the location.
I asked Jaquita Wilson, 18, a senior who has been at Robeson for all 4 years, if she will miss Robeson and she replied, “I will miss a few people but as far as the school, I won’t miss it because the staff do too much and show favoritism towards certain kids.”
I also asked her if Robeson has prepared her for college and she replied, “No. Robeson has not because I feel like I’m not learning anything that will help me in the real world or in the college life.”
I’m getting ready for prom and graduation and in the past week some of the seniors have been preparing for different things. For example, in our Film and Lit class, we are writing poems and going to perform them in front of our peers and some professional poets. I think that our teacher having us write poems and recite them on stage is building our confidence because a lot of us are afraid and nervous. We also were focusing on senior notables, where we will be campaigning and making speeches on why we are running for a notable.
To give an overview of how it feels to be a student at Paul Robeson, I also interviewed a student who has been here since her freshman year, Trianna Jones, 17, a junior now at Robeson. I asked how she feels about Robeson and she replied, “I don’t think it’s too good of a school because the kids are out of control and teachers can’t control them. Teachers shouldn’t have to fight students to give them an education.”
I also asked her if Robeson prepared her for college and she said, “Only one class out of Robeson has prepared me for college so far.”
I asked her does she plan on graduating from Robeson and she said, “It’s not my choice but if it was, I wouldn’t be at Robeson.”
I interviewed an after-school teacher by the name of Ms. Seats who has been working at Robeson for 2 years. I asked her how she feels about the students’ comments that they were not prepared for college and she said, “It’s sad that they are not prepared but it’s not just the school. It has to do with the parents as well.”
I also asked about her experience at Robeson and she said, “My experience here with the students in the after-school program has been a great one. I look forward to coming to every day.”
I also asked her what does she has to say about students who aren’t graduating this year and she replied, “All I can say is learn from the current students and if you see there’s no help, go get it on your own.”
After graduation, I plan on attending a community college for 2 years then transferring to a university. I honestly don’t believe that I am fully prepared to attend a 4-year university.
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