By Eric Nalley, OneWest Team at Markham Middle School

The spring semester has been going well at Markham Middle School in Watts, with a number of notable student successes and achievements. One of the most significant updates in recent weeks is that of Vincent, an eighth grade student. On Friday, March 7, Vincent found out that he had been accepted into Verbum Dei High School, one of the best high schools in the neighborhood.

Vincent attributes much of his success to the involvement of the OneWest Team in his academic life. He has worked with members of the team since sixth grade, specifically with Dylan Bondy his first year and Mariana De La Garza last year. Dylan helped Vincent improve his math skills, and Mariana helped him develop his self-esteem and to believe in his ability to succeed. This year, corps member Ruben Bautista is continuing on Dylan’s and Mariana’s work, building his self-esteem and coaching him on his behavior.

At the beginning of this academic year, Vincent still struggled with his confidence and his schoolwork. He was still hesitant to ask for help when needed or to answer questions aloud in class, even when he knew the answers. He also had some behavior issues, accumulating several “U”s in behavior on his report card. All that began to change when he realized that he really wanted to get more out of his life, and to apply to Verbum Dei High School. He knew he needed to turn around his academics and behavior.

Ruben, who works with him in his science class, has been providing him support throughout the school day and after-school. He also encouraged Vincent to participate in City Year’s behavior coaching program, where students who are struggling with many aspects of behavior – patience, discipline, and confidence – explore their leadership potential. Over time, Vincent started to get the most out of his education, including answering questions in class, taking more initiative, and improving his grades.

This fall, Vincent will be attending Verbum Dei, where 100% of the students graduate and go on to college. In addition to getting an education, he wants to participate in the school’s football program. Vincent has been playing football all his life and going to Verbum Dei would help him pursue his dream of playing football at USC or Oregon. After college, Vincent wants to either be a professional football player or a lawyer.

Down the road, Vincent is also interested in giving back to his community and helping people, who are not as fortunate in life as he is. He especially wants to help his family. He is hoping that an education from Verbum Dei will allow him to do all of this. Without City Year, Vincent believes he would not be going to Verbum Dei High School.

The OneWest Team is really proud of him and is really glad that City Year corps members, past and present, played a role in providing him the ongoing support he needed to succeed.

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