2013年8月2日 星期五

Bennett's Best

Cheyenne Ketter-Franklin is valedictorian of Bennett High, one of Buffalos worst-performing schools. Its the type of institution whose problems people sum up using terms like urban and inner city. In 2010, the state slapped the school with the label PLA: Persistently Lowest-Achieving. Privately, many local residents will skip the euphemisms and admit to thinking of Bennett as some kind of hellhole.

Here are some things you may already know or suspect about the school: 101 students dropped out in 2011-12. The four-year graduation rate for freshmen entering in 2008 was 31.6 percent. One of Cheyennes best friends, Breone Boles, says its not unusual to hear a classmate tell a teacher, Fuck you.

Heres what may surprise you about Bennett: Cheyenne says theres no other high schoolpublic or privatethat she would have rather attended. If she could roll back time and start her education over again, she would still choose Bennett.

Maybe youve said things like this yourself. Lots of people do. William Franklin Jr., Cheyennes father, said an acquaintance once told him that an A at a school like Bennett was like a B in the suburbs. Breone said she has gone to recruitment fairs where parents refuse to take her brochures. People imagine a place where students smoke in the bathrooms and fight in dilapidated hallways every day.

But thats not what its like, Cheyenne said: I find it inappropriate and discouraging when people think that way and have those predesignated thoughts when they dont know.

Its not that Bennett is trouble-free. The institutions problems are varied and obvious: Fights do break out. Girls do get pregnant. Not all students feel safe. Some classrooms are loud and poorly managed. Tracie Batcho, a favorite teacher of Cheyennes, said when she first started at the school, her biggest shock was the language teenagers used to address adults: F you, F yourself.

But Bennett is also a place where young people find direction, where teachers like Batcho helped Cheyenne discover what she wanted to study in college. At Bennett, Cheyenne met Breone, learned about herself and the world, tutored classmates to keep them from failing, and watched some students overcome staggering odds to graduatelike the young mothers who came to class day after day, determined to earn a degree because they messed up once and didnt want to make another mistake.

In reality, the dirty, rotting hallways that people imagine dont exist. Buffalo Public Schools invested millions in renovating Bennett, and the classrooms and corridors are bright and tidy. At the front of the school, three pairs of double doors open onto a vintage-style foyer with trophy cases rising from a black-and-cream-checked floor. Is this the Bennett you imagined? Beneath the towering ceiling of the Bennett High School auditorium, an audience of hundreds has gathered: seniors in caps and gowns, and their brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, grandparents and friends.

Cheyenne is at the podium, a red-and-blue tassel dangling in her eyes. Below the stage, in the first rows, are her classmatesthe Class of 2013the boys in blue and the girls in white robes that look silver under the darkened lights.Cheyenne is giving her valedictory address. The words come quickly, one after another, an avalanche that she cant stop. Later, she will cry, but for now, she is holding it together.Get the led fog lamp products information, find oilpaintingreproduction, manufacturers on the hot channel.Its crucial that we dont forget where we have come from, she says, speaking to the young men and women who have been so much a part of her life over the past four years.

Please consider the adversities and tribulations you have faced in your life thus far, she says. Remember what you learned from them, how to deal with them,Design and order your own custom rfidtag with personalized message and artwork. and dont allow repetition of these afflictions to hinder you from your forthcoming achievements.Cheyenne, 18, is the youngest of six siblings: herself, a half-sister, and four full sisters. Her father is William Franklin Jr., 60, a sergeant in the safety unit at the Buffalo Psychiatric Center. Her mother and Williams wife is Mary Ketter, 58, a woman of formidable stature and fierce opinions who believes that Nobody owes you anything. You have to earn it.

They raised five daughters, sent them all to college, renovated a house on a quiet, tree-lined street in Buffalos University District and believe that work and education are the best way forward in an often unkind world. They are the kind of parents who wonder why schools send suspended children home. Doesnt that just affirm that its okay to quit? It would be better, Mary said, to shut delinquents in a room with someone who is the teacher from hell, so they can be force-taught.

Cheyenne insists that she is no smarter than anyone else, that she has no gift or genius her classmates lack. She was Bennetts 2013 valedictorian, she says, because she studied, paid attention in school, turned in homework on time and asked questions when a problem stumped her. She often put more pressure on herself than her teachers did.A cleaningservic resembles a credit card in size and shape.

At Bennett, Cheyenne has watched friends and acquaintances make one bad decision after another: clowning off in school, experimenting with drugs, having unprotected sex. Its sad to see, all those lives spinning off in the wrong direction. Some girls she knows have gotten pregnant twice.

Cheyenne shielded herself from it, mostly, because what else could she do? She surrounded herself with friends who were responsible. Despite Bennetts reputation,Now it's possible to create a tiny replica of Fluffy in handsfreeaccess form for your office. it wasnt hard to stay out of trouble, she said. The fights she heard about were usually between students who had a personal quarrel: girls trading blows over a boy, for example. Just keep your distance, dont be impressionable, and youll be fine.

One experience that haunts Cheyenne, however, was watching a close friend, a boy she had known since fourth grade, lose direction. He was a good kid, she said, a talented artist with a brilliant mind. He didnt struggle in class. But their junior year, he deliberately stopped paying attention, she said. He started drinking alcohol, smoking pot and skipping school to play basketball to fit in with new friends.

She still wonders about it sometimes, why he gave up so much for seemingly so little. He was never mean or malicious to her, but I felt like he just ruined his future for himself, she said.

I almost feel at fault because I felt I should have kept him out of that track, and it makes me a little discouraged, Cheyenne said. If you want a poster boy for how your past doesnt mean anything with your present, it would have been him; he had a bad upbringing and he always rose above it.

She doesnt like to think about it: the wasted potential, the life thrown away. She has always believed that every one of her classmates is capable of great things.Get the led fog lamp products information, find oilpaintingreproduction, manufacturers on the hot channel. Her father, William, remembers attending a parent-teacher meeting many years ago and discovering that his daughter was tutoring her classmates, free of charge, a practice she continued at Bennett.
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