'Street School has saved our lives'
BY MARIA MORRIS
Thursday, June 07, 2012
6/07/12 at 4:29 AM
Close your eyes and imagine being a teenager in high school having problems getting through each school day and not being able to help yourself. The problem could be drugs, bullying, pregnancy, emotional issues, problems at home, your parents or no parents.
Imagine finding a school that understood your plight and was committed to helping you reach your goal of becoming a high school graduate.
Imagine attending that school and having teachers, counselors and an administration that truly cared for you. Imagine them helping you through the hurdles (personal or educational) that you faced, day after day, week after week.
Finally, imagine walking across a stage and reaching that goal of becoming a high school graduate. A goal that at one time seemed impossible.
Now open your eyes and imagine being a student at Tulsa's Street School.
All of us in the graduating class of 2012 have our own life story, each with a beginning and each with a hero called Street School. None of us will ever forget what being a student at Street School has taught us - like my English instructor, Michael Easter, who taught me that hate is not what anyone wants in their life.
Counselor Maureen TeRuki taught me that patience and understanding can go a long way. Program Director Lorraine McReynolds taught me that having compassion for another human being is the best part of being human.
Art instructor Laura Abbott taught me to create what is on the inside of me for the outside world to see.
But the biggest lesson Street School taught everyone in my class is to never give up on yourself. Never.
As my class goes forward and blends into the background called the world, we will not hate. We will be compassionate. We will have patience and understanding. We will create. We will not judge people from their outside appearance, and we will never give up.
I think I speak for most students when I say that Street School was the best thing that happened to us. I could say a lot of things about my life and where I have come from. But all of us at Street School have come from similar situations and have progressed to where we are today because of this school.
We have learned how to be comfortable in surroundings with other people with similar backgrounds. Street School is a place where students, who often feel they are not welcome, can go and know they are. It's a place where judgment does not exist, and you can grow into who you are and not worry about who you are in other people's eyes.
Street School has saved our lives. Street School has changed us. We are no longer dropouts or considering leaving a diploma behind. We have survived and bypassed the obstacles in our way to realize that education is important and that we matter. The individualized attention in the classroom and our assigned counselors stepped up to the plate and allowed us to see the world as an opportunity.
Thank you for believing in us and giving us the chance that others in our situation will never get to experience.
Thank you, Tulsa, for supporting Street School. I am the first sibling in my family to graduate from high school. It means everything.
Maria Morris of Tulsa is a recent Street School graduate.
A student walks past a mural on a row of lockers at Street School. Tulsa World file
Maria Morris: I am the first sibling in my family to graduate from high school. It means everything