Tug of war

Sha'Diya Tomlin, opinions writer

My education is in the middle of a game of tug of war. And tug of war is never fun when you don’t know who is on the other side of the rope. I was told as a child by my grandmother the key to becoming successful in life is getting my education. Do well in school, go to college and you can be and do whatever you want in life. Now I’m in this game that I never thought I would have to play. I feel like I’m losing, and don’t know what to do. Because the only way out is winning this game. Each pull feels like I’m losing grip on the rope that is my education.

 

Pull

Getting an education hasn’t been easy. I switched schools because the schools in the city  weren’t the best. And still aren’t. Education seems to be put on a high shelf, making it harder for me to reach success. I walk around KHS like I have been here since preschool, smile on my face like I feel at home and belong here, when I really feel out of place because I can’t relate to any of the average Kirkwood kid problems like having to wake up 10 minutes before school starts to walk around the corner or driving to school. Because there is more to my story than just coming to school. I wake up my three sisters and little brother at 5:20 a.m. every day so they can be ready to get on their buses at 6:20 a.m.. Each of us spends an hour and 15 minutes on a bus for 28 miles twice a day. We have a long walk home after school because our bus stops are about one mile away from our home. Complaining is never an option; these are just the sacrifices my family and many other families have to make. When you have to choose between school “A,” where you will get the bare minimum of an education, no accreditation and no fighting chance at an Ivy League school or school “B,” where you can receive better education and you will reach your highest potential.  For my family, this decision was easy.

 

Pull

Sometimes it feels like I’m trying to make lemonade out of limes. To be a black face in a white space. I sit in all of my classes feeling as if I am a black hole, absorbing every word my teachers speak like it is the Bible, trying to get the education I was sent to KHS to receive. Sitting in AP and Honors classes and told that I am smart for a kid from Riverview because I was taking challenging courses. Nobody said it would be easy for a black child to be put in a predominantly white school, because there are so many things that feel like they are holding you back. Sometimes I questioned if it was really worth it, giving up the comfort of my community where I am surrounded by people who look like me. Closing my eyes during classes just to imagine that feeling of having a school like this, where I live.

 

Pull

It doesn’t get easier from here. After Riverview received their provisional accreditation last year, they no longer have to provide transportation to and from Kirkwood. Busses helped us be able to get back and forth, helped my mom be able to send us to school everyday.

 

Pull

Riverview has snatched the buses right out from under all the students. Letting us “finish out” our school year in KSD up to the next graduation point, but not providing families with a way to get there. Riverview families have to make that 45-minute drive every day just so their kids can get the education Kirkwood provides. My family has five kids in KSD. One in elementary school, two in middle school and two in high school. My mother will have to figure out a way to drive us all to school and then make it to work on time so she can continue to provide for us. Then she will have to be able to pick us all up after school. She is doing this by herself, and it’s hard to watch your mother struggling when she’s been fighting this fight for so long. Struggling to make sure we all get to our bus stops on time, having to come all the way out to Kirkwood to pick us up from school if we’re sick.  This is my senior year of high school. How am I supposed to be involved? I was supposed to worry about what dress I’m going to wear to prom, or even what homework assignment I forgot to turn in, not if I’m going to make it to school or not.

 

Pull

It hurts. It hurts to see people at school complaining about how much they dislike the school they are going to, or complaining about waking up at 7:20 a.m. to drive to school. It hurts that they don’t even see what they have right in front of them when all summer I was focused on how my family will get to school everyday, thinking that at any moment Riverview’s school board is able to take it all away, and we won’t be able to do anything to hold onto the rope a little bit longer. It hurts when it feels like just one more pull could end it all.