Students at the Community School Speak Up

Students at the Community School Speak Up

The Community School is located at Huntington Ave. and 30th St. in Remmington

The following is a conversation between Marilyn Hunter and three students at the Community School in Remington. The school, which combines academic and mentoring programs, offers full-time day classes to youth ages 15-18. The curriculum is designed to prepare students to pass the GED exam and eventually enroll in college. The Community School was founded in 1982 by Tom Culotta along with residents of the Remington community. It is governed by a community Board of Trustees with the active support and involvement of a Board of Advisors, sponsors, students, parents, alumni, and supporters from both Remington and beyond. The students interviewed: Desmond Carter (Bel-Air Edison, 3rd year at Community School) Kris Watt (Hampden, 3rd year at Community School) Sara Ciulla (Hampden, 2nd year at Community School) Marilyn: What do you see as the main problems young people face in Baltimore? Desmond: My main concern is the public schools. They are bad; they really need work. If you have good schools, you can stop the violence, the drugs, the youth in the streets, the drop-out rates. Kris: What you do in your spare time impacts the community, your activity in society. We need more youth organizations, more kids’ activity and involvement. Rather than in school, they are in the streets. After school it’s fine they’re being in the streets, but they need to be involved and active in a good way. Youth groups, Scouts, 4-H (1), Future Farmers of America, things like that. If we had more people who cared it would be better, more responsible parenting, combined with youth activity. Sara: It would be good if parents were working with the kids, if there were outdoor activities that would keep people out of mischief. As far as the schools go, we need teachers that care and take time with kids. When I was in school, the work was rushed and kids were doing what they wanted. Kids should stay in school if they want to get anywhere. I wish I would have focused more when I was in school. Now I’m trying to focus on my future. Kris: There’s a lot of peer-to-peer influence out there. It goes back to responsible parents and parenting skills. Sara: They should get involved in school. Desmond: …and the teachers. Doctor Alonzo came to our school to see why it works so good. We told him, you need motivation. Tom (Tom Culotta, founder and director of the Community School) got us there and motivates us. He wants us to go to college, to have the potential to get a big job. Motivation to think about where you want to go. I don’t just want to get a job at Safeway pushing carts. It makes you feel good when someone motivates you. Here we don’t dwell on our mistakes, we push ourselves. Kris: The school keeps up with the positive influence and education. Not just to get your diploma and you’re done, but what are you going to do in 10, 15 years? So successful is not being poor, successful is being heard, being well-educated. Desmond: When we do our work, it’s not just to get a diploma, we have the option to go to college. Not just to get a GED. Kris: People ask me what kind of school this is. Is it a high school? A college-prep school? I tell them it’s more of a college preparatory program. Marilyn: And how do you feel about what’s happening in society? Desmond: I’m worried about the world, things like the economy, the presidential race. It can affect us. This 700 billion dollars, we’re the ones that are gonna pay for it. It will affect us. I’m worried about wars – Georgia, Russia, Afghanistan, Iran. I’m worried about nuclear weapons and Korea. Mostly I’m worried about the presidential race. I want Obama to win, but I don’t know how he’s going to tackle the problems. If McCain won, I think there will be more war. Kris: I think about the economic situation, the presidential race, war. Whatever happens this year will impact our future. I hope it’s stable enough to get a job, afford a home, a car, a loan. I ask myself, how will our country struggle to get that? You know, every empire has its day; every country can come down hard. I have a feeling it’s going to be hard. Sara: When I was younger I never paid too much attention. Now I’m opening my eyes and it’s scary. We’ve got these people controlling what happens to us. It feels like we don’t have a word or we’re not doing enough. Marilyn: What about your role? Desmond: I think we have a role in the presidential race. We can have a big role in the war if enough young people stand up. I don’t think we can influence people like Bush or McCain to bring the troops back. But we can try. I don’t believe it can work. In the presidential race a lot of young people are going to be voting for Obama. Sara: Some people don’t know how to get the word out. They are out to get the political leaders’ attention. Maybe they have ideas, but they don’t know how to get them across. I don’t. Desmond: There is a way to affect things. Young people my age, you can educate the people you’re talking to. We watch CNN every day at school. I know what’s going on. If you know about politics before you get to college, you’ll be more prepared. Kris: I don’t see myself as being active in politics. I’m active in scouting. I want to see change happen, but as far as involvement goes, I’m not very political. Marilyn: Do you think you have an influence through scouting? Kris: Well, yes. I work at camp. I’ve taught younger people a lot of outdoor skills. It’s true: your actions and opinions have an influence on other people, whether they are older or younger. Teaching kids, if I can share some of my moral values, they may not get onto the street. I hope they can see themselves in me and what I’m doing. Marilyn: What hopes do you have for the future? Desmond: Tom shared a quote from JFK with us about developing our own abilities because our private hopes and dreams can benefit everyone, our individual futures can make a better society. Kris: You have to further your education and get involved in organizations that are helping yourself to help others to help the world. Get out there and help people. Don’t just sit around. Sara: When I heard the quote, it made me think of working hard, going through college, seeing what I can do to help others. Be someone who makes a difference in others’ lives. Desmond: Maybe we need educated people to remake a society like the US. You can’t have uneducated people to run the world. If you start education early, that’s the key. Marilyn: Can you tell me a little about your peers? Sara: A lot of them, they wouldn’t think it through before doing something. They just do it. They just do it because they think, “they will think I’m tough!” and other stuff. They don’t think it through, to understand other people’s lives. Kris: My friends I hang with, they’re educated. They know about things. But they don’t have the attitude, they don’t realize the impact. The one’s involved, they know that. The rest, they’re not trying to influence someone: this is what’s wrong, what we need to fix. They’re not looking at the results of the AIG bailout and such. There is more crime and corruption – and they don’t care. They don’t see the impact and it’s going to be big. Sara: I used to feel that way. Now I’m more concerned about it. They don’t care; don’t look into it. If I talk about it, they say “What’s the big deal?” But sometimes they pick up on it. Desmond: I watch George Bush and it bothers me. They think it’s boring. They don’t care about politics. They don’t even know who’s running for president. Marilyn: What would you like to see in the larger world? Sara: I’d like it if we didn’t have to work so hard to get what we need. It’s hard to get what you need. Sometimes me and my mom, we go without. I’d like a world that is easy to live in, that is simple, but for all. Better interaction, lower prices, a cleaner environment, less crimes. I don’t need a BMW, but a simple life. Not a big fancy house and giant cars. Just to live. Desmond: I’d like to look back at life to see if I was successful. I wouldn’t mind having a big house and cars. But that wouldn’t make me successful. If I can go to college, get my masters, have a house, maybe a wife, two cars. And a good environment. That’s only gonna happen if our currency goes up and our economy is stable. I don’t want a mess like now. Kris: And our world, our country - I’d like it if we were all equal. No matter what your pay is. If we would treat each other as equals. If we did that and had a universal system where everyone could be successful and tried to help each other. I’d like to be successful and comfortable – I don’t need a thousand acres. If I could have a farm that provided for myself and for other people, I’d be happy because I’m making a contribution to society. This country is lacking successful farms, farms that could produce food and energy for the future. I look at it as primarily realistic. You don’t need it to be that big. If we thought about what we did before we did it and had a more conservative world, it could be better for everyone. For more information visit the Community School website: http://www.tcs-camp.com 1. 4-H in the United States is a youth organization administered by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The four "H"s stand for Head, Heart, Hands, and Health.