Ariel Johnson & Christopher Gaston
Delivered June 12, 2019
Jam Handy Building, Detroit, Michigan
Ariel and Christopher were chosen by their classmates to speak on their behalf. They wrote these speeches themselves.
Hi, I’m Ariel Johnson, a graduating student from the Boggs School. I want to first start off by saying thank you to everyone: to the staff and to the students, and to my family. My experience at the Boggs School has been a JOURNEY!
My journey here started in 3rd grade. I first started off as a kid that was always in the office. I didn't know how to communicate. I would yell at people instead of talking. I would get frustrated instead of asking for help. Then, in 6th and 7th grade, I got really quiet. Now, here I am. I have learned to communicate not only with my words but with my brain and heart. I now show empathy because I know how it feels to be hurt and unheard. This year, I was selected by my class and teacher for being an "upstander" rather than watching my community break down from the sidelines. I've been asked to go to D.C. to represent women in my community. I was voted to become class delegate to make the school rules and consequences. I am on the Welcome Committee to tell visitors the history behind the Boggs School.
Boggs changed me. Boggs taught me that they can show and teach me everything under the sun but they can’t tell me who I am. I learned I have to find how to do that on my own. In my eighth grade year, I realized I’m going to have struggles and I’m going to have rough times, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a solution to my problems. It doesn’t mean I can’t find another answer to my problem. On March 15th, I found out that I didn't get accepted into Cass Technical High School, which was pretty devastating because I put all of my hard work and grit into applying, just to feel like I failed. But, with all of the teachers, friends, and family by my side telling me that I will get to where I need to be, they encouraged me to do the appeal process. I put all of my determination into reapplying, and by not giving up, I learned on April 19th I was accepted into Cass Tech High School.
I have grown. I have grown because I see that being a powerful young woman in my community matters. I learned that if I try hard enough, stay focused and committed, I'll get to where I need to be. Both teachers and students have helped me become who I am.
So, thank you, Ms. Jasmine. There's no other teacher I know who would miss a chance to go to Houston just to help kids with high school applications. You're an amazing woman, and I hope you can help the next 8th graders even more than you helped me. You told me that I can be the best I can be in my village and that will help me be a successful young woman. Because of you, I know I can help other young women be successful too.
To Ms. Ella, thank you for sitting down, having conversations with me, and to hear out my problems and tell me I know there’s a solution to it and I’ll get to where I need to be. You're not only my ELA teacher, or writing teacher, you're someone that helped me get through this year and grow into an influencer.
And lastly, thank you Ms. Trina for pushing me and telling me that second chances are for a reason and I should take advantage of it and run with it and go to the next level. I’m so grateful you were my teacher and I had a chance to look up to a smart, joyful woman. If it wasn’t for the love tap talks, I wouldn’t have passed algebra with a B.
"Being a compelling person doesn’t make me happy throughout the day, being happy throughout the day makes me a compelling person."
"Glow as you grow, and shine when you grind."
Delivered June 13, 2018
Jam Handy Building, Detroit, Michigan
Kamari was chosen by her classmates to speak on their behalf. She did not seek adult help in preparing this speech.
I’ve been at Boggs since 4th grade.
Think about that - the people at this school have watched me grow from basically an infant to a high-schooler (not that there is much of a difference anyway). At this school, we have been trained to be "solutionaries," to be the change we want to see. Since I’m a part of the first graduating class, it’s my duty to make sure these people are proud of their hard work.
I honestly don’t know who I’d be if I hadn’t gone to Boggs. This school grows on you. Whether you like it here or not, you’re gonna miss it when you leave. I’m proud to be graduating but don’t confuse, I’m not happy to go. If I could go to Boggs College or even high school I would. However, that is not how you grow. Staying in the same place and being comfortable feels nice, but moving on- even if it feels a little uncomfortable- puts you way better off. Change is good, change is amazing- and the fact of the matter is at some point we will all have to go through change. Whether big or small, important or meaningless, joyous or sorrowful. And this is okay.
It took me awhile to realize that people who challenge your mind, character, beliefs, perception, and mental and physical strength are the people you want in your life. The truth is those kinds of people will always push you farther than you thought you could go. The people who push you, love you, they care about you. Because, if they didn’t care, if they didn’t love you, they wouldn’t try. This only proves that growing and developing is not only being okay with your change but encouraging the change of others. And because of that fact I have four pieces of knowledge for the future 8th graders of the Boggs school:
1. 90% of the time you’ll forget the petty beefs that you have. They aren’t worth the grudge, and sometimes you have to move on.
2. You don’t hate anyone EVER. You may dislike someone, but you never hate. It takes a lot of energy to hate someone, energy you could be using for something else.
3. Sometimes you’re going to have to work with someone you don’t like. In those times you have to put the project or end goal above your feelings towards that person. You have to dislike failing more than you dislike them.
4. Last but not least, rebel with a purpose. Don’t protest because it makes you look cool, quirky, or wacky. Because, the truth is, it doesn’t. Protest because you and other people want change and you are trying to get to it.
I walk away hoping only that the future 8th graders of the Boggs school will do great things. This school is no longer a school but a second home, and I’d like to thank everyone who made that possible.
So thank you.
To Ms. Ella for being one of the most hardworking, dedicated teachers I've ever had. And for always being there when I needed you most.
To Ms. Scheherazade for being the realest, most loving person I could count on.
To Ms. Jacinda for being the sweetest and the funniest teacher I’ve had.
To Ms. Whitney for always having the biggest heart and loving us no matter what.
To Ms. Trina for always greeting us with the biggest and brightest smile on your face even when you didn’t feel that way.
To Mr. Terondae for not only being someone we can look up to but who we can relate to.
To Ms. Janelle for always doing your absolute best and pushing us to do so as well.
To Ms. Jasmine for always knowing us, sometimes better than we know ourselves.
To Ms. Ammerah for making us go beyond where we thought we could go, and then a little further.
To Ms. Marisol, Ms. Julia, and Ms. Amanda for being people I have always and will always look up to.
This school will always be a part of me, and I will carry on keeping the things that I’ve learned and the people I’ve met close to my heart.