Meet the Real Robeson High School

by Secret Blackman 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Urban Youth International Journalism Program, which is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation.

How is it really at Robeson High School in the Englewood neighborhood on the South Side? A lot of people misjudge Robeson because of what they see on the news. Many people might think all Robeson students don’t know anything and fight every day. But what they don’t know is that many kids in Robeson have great talents and are very smart. I currently attend Robeson and it’s very different than what people say. I interviewed some Robeson students to give a fuller picture of the student body, their views on the school, and the violence that is an issue in Englewood.

Shanika Chavis is a freshman who works after school and likes to “goof off with friends.” She said there are not too many gangs at Robeson. She wants to be a teacher because she likes to help people. She said the school “is interesting because you learn different things and you can use them later on in life.” She thinks gangbanging is “stupid and makes no sense.” There are “wild students” at Robeson but added that “if they were more focused on their work they could be better students.” She thinks the school could change for the better if people were “more focused on the kids instead of their behavior.”

Jamie Nichols is a freshman who plays on the football team and gets good grades. He said there is “ignorance and violence” at the school. He wants to be a professional football player and then a lawyer, and he wants to attend Michigan State University. He said, “It’s retarded to gang bang.” He thinks the school could improve but he thinks a lot of people have already “given up on the school.”

Reginald Jenkins is a freshman who said he doesn’t really feel safe traveling to and from school because there are “too many gangs.” He doesn’t know what he wants to do as a career but he wants to attend UCLA for college. He thinks school is “interesting” and could be better with fewer gangs. He thinks Robeson should be remodeled. But he doesn’t really ever expect to see big changes.

Jarimah Dilworth is a freshman who likes to crack jokes. As a career, he wants to do a lot of things, including “being rich and famous.” He also wants to go to UCLA for college. He thinks Robeson could change for the better but “it’s going to take a lot of work. We don’t put the effort to do it.”

Mr. Anthony Warren is an attendance coordinator on staff at Robeson. He likes Robeson and thinks students could change their outlooks for the better. “It’s all about mindset and attitude,” he said. He thinks Robeson has not been remodeled yet because of the neighborhood it’s in and its academic rank. He does feel safe at Robeson and he does think students are learning. “If you want something you are going to get it,” he said. But he added, “Parents need to be there” for their children.

Jameeka Leaster is a freshmen who also attends Robeson. She says that her experience was good at first, “until I saw the real Robeson.” She says she doesn’t want to attend the school next year because she is moving to Harvey, Illinois. She likes the journalism program and hanging out with City Year in school. Leaster says that the gangs are unnecessary, “The students are too young to be getting themselves into such dangerous situations.” She doesn’t know what college she wants to attend but she knows she wants to finish high school and be a veterinarian. Leaster thinks that the violence and gangs will just get worse in the future.

Personally, I think that the violence and gangs will never stop but I think that it can be reduced. If kids and teenagers had more opportunities, they would do better at Robeson. A lot of people look past our school because of what they see on the news or what they hear. Robeson is not what everybody thinks it is. There are a lot of kids in here with special talents but they don’t show them because they don’t have enough supportive influences to help them. So please don’t judge our school if you are not actually a student or teacher here. There is more to Robeson than you think.

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