Thursday, May 16, 2013

More than Just a Board Meeting

Last night was a night filled with praises, thanks, and powerful speeches. Let’s see, where to start, where to start? Well, why not at the beginning. While in the middle of class, I received a phone call from Don. Unfortunately, I had to take it at a later time because my teacher would kill me if she saw me on my phone. I waited until after class, gave Don a call, and he gave me the best news I’d heard in the past two weeks: My comrades and I were officially going to Yale. I was walking in the clouds for the next few hours, to say the least, and am so ecstatic that I will be going. After that, I went on home and got ready. My preparation time was quick before myself and my parents departed for Lovonya DeJean Junior High in Richmond. It’s only a twenty minute drive from my house and looks quite nice. The buildings are relatively new and free of graffiti that plagues most of the other junior highs in our area. When Don Gosney told us that the board meeting was going to be held in a junior high, I immediately thought, “Why isn’t the board meeting going to be held in city hall?” I am very naïve and soon learned that Don needed more open space to bunch us up for a huge group photo.

In any event, Don told us to get there by 6:00 PM and that is when most people, including me, starting filtering in. The meeting itself wouldn’t begin until 6:30, but Don knows that with some people you got to tell them that an event starts half  an hour before it really does so that they get there on time. While waiting for the meeting to start I met up with an old friend of mine, Mr. Thomas Johnson. He and I used to play flute back in Pinole Junior High and it was great to see him again and get the opportunity to participate in such a magnificent program as the Ivy League Connection. He will be attending Vanderbilt this summer, the Ivy League of the South. I wish him luck in his endeavors. In addition, I got to talk more with Mr. Malachi Gonzales, another friend of mine from Pinole Junior High. He’s still the cool character I remember him to be. He told me how he will be studying macroeconomics at Brown and the excitement he expressed for getting the chance to visit the East coast. I also talked with a few other ILC’ers and got to know my comrades better. I wish them luck on the advanced placement testing.

Then at 6:30, we were all called to sit down and begin the board meeting. Role was called, the agenda was amended slightly, and a case was brought before the school board. The case was about how the school board should keep a vital program for underprivileged children open. The three speakers had such fervor and tenacity in their speeches that even I, who knew only what they had told me about the program, felt as if it was imperative to keep it open. I can only hope that my speech giving skills will one day be that good.

After the board made its decision on the program, the Ivy League Connection was introduced. It felt as though we were the highlight of the evening, what everyone had been waiting for. The man who introduced us was an eloquent speaker and gave the ILC’ers, the board, and the benefactors such great praise. He went on to thank the board, and then the first group went up. If my memory serves me, I do believe Mr. Simon Cohen went up first to talk about Columbia University. He set a tone of professionalism for the rest of the evening that made me feel as though my speech was going to be no good. I admit that I did my best to mimic the speed of his speech and timber in his voice to sound more professional. I only hope that I did as well as him. One by one, each cohort went up: Brown, Cornell, Penn, Vanderbilt. Yale was last. At first, I thought that they were saving best for last. But as each troop approached the podium and Ms. Michelle Phung, Ms. Audrey Ehi Webb, Ms. Crystal Tse, and Ms. Kimberly De Dios, spoke on behalf of their cohorts, I felt great pressure to follow up such good speeches. Then, the Yale troop was called up. Ms. Tracey Singh-Poole introduced us all and Don got some good pictures of us. Then it came time for my speech. I thanked the board, told them why I am proud to be part of the Ivy League Connection, and what I will bring back to my community and my school. I felt I did okay compared to the other very well planned speeches. We were then walked off stage and given a certificate. I felt a certain relief on no longer having to give my speech, and yet I felt I did well enough that I can do this again if I am requested too.

Then the main benefactors were brought up, thanked, and also given a certificate for all of their hard work. I spoke with Mr. Dave Olsen and thanked him in person. He told me that getting up there and being thanked felt unnecessary and that we, the ILC’ers, deserve more credit. As humble as Mr. Olsen is, I thank him and all the benefactors. Their contributions turn dreams into reality. We then wrapped up the night with inspiring speeches by Ms. Madeline Kronenberg and Mr. Charles Ramsey. If anyone had a shred of doubt that the Ivy League Connection has sent people and changed them not only for self-benefit but for benefitting the community, then they have been disproven. Mr. Ramsey even went on to say that we were the ambassadors of the West Contra Costa Unified School District and that we are the crème of the crop. Thank you Mr. Ramsey, we will not disappoint you.

Later, Don took a picture of all of the people in the Ivy League Connection and their parents, and even managed to squeeze in the chaperones. We finished off the night by bidding farewell to everyone and hoping that they are successful in their struggle while on the East Coast. I feel honored to be part of the Ivy League Connection, and I will not let them down. 
All the ILC'ers, parents, and chaperones.

Can it be true?? We are Yale bound??

Who can that be? Calling me during a staff collaboration? Doesn't this person realize my principal does not like distractions?  I decided this call must be important and stepped out of the room.  When I answered the phone the last thing I expected to hear was Don's voice. "Tracey I just thought you would want to know but I just got word your cohort was accepted to Yale”.  

Wow!!! I could not imagine what these four young men were feeling right now.  To know that they had finally been accepted and that their summer journey would begin had to be truly amazing.  It couldn't have been any more fitting of a day as we were getting ready to go before the WCCUSD school board to be presented as the Yale ILCers and it would have been a little less excited if we were still waiting to know if they were truly going to have this opportunity this year.  

After having way too many meetings at school, I began my journey to DeJean Middle School to attend and be part of the School Board meeting and present to the Board my cohort.  
Upon arrival we all hooked up and talked about the mood of hearing today’s news.  We talked about the colleges they would visit before their program (Harvard, Brown and Wesleyan) and what we will do for the first few days before they would go into the hall of Yale.  

My cohort is excited despite knowing how much work is ahead of them, they have taken on the challenge and are ready to show the folks at Yale that they were worth every bit of their admittance into the program this summer.  

Being at the meeting tonight and seeing so many bright and motivated students makes me both proud and optimistic.  I am proud that I have the opportunity to work in a district that produces a fine group of young men and women with such bright futures.  But most of all I am optimistic that each and every one of these young men and women will make a difference in not only our world but their community.  As we continue forward we have so much to do but we accept the challenge with great pride.