Bridging the Achievement Gap

by Adaeze Okoli, age 16

For the past three years the popular Bridging the Achievement Gap Column has covered various topics regarding the academic excellence of minority students. This column has become a tradition at the Simpson Street Free Press, and has now been passed down to me.

My name is Adaeze Okoli, and I am a sophomore at Middleton High School. I am honored to be writing this column, and to have the opportunity to speak my mind on issues concerning minority achievement.

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At the beginning of the school year, President Obama gave a nationally televised address to kindergarten through twelfth grade student. He challenged students to do their best in school. He also stated that each student is responsible for making the most of their education.

“At the end of the day we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities” President Obama said. It is important for all students to know that they are ultimately the deciders of their fate. In other words, you choose where you want to go in life.

My mom has always told me, “If you don’t know where you’re going, then you’ll get there fast.” What she meant by this is, if you don’t have any goals, then you can end up anywhere. But if you have specific goals set, then you know where you want to go and you will work hard to get there.

A large part of succeeding in school and in life is having goals for yourself. By setting goals, you have expectations of what you want to achieve. President Obama advised students to write a letter to themselves with personal goals and aspirations they have and to every so often look at the letter to remind themselves of the goals they have.

It is one thing to know which path you want to take, but it’s another thing to start the journey. The first step is always the hardest, but once you get going, it gets easier to continue. So start by getting help on your toughest subject, or studying for that test instead of blowing it off. Once you set new habits for yourself they will soon become second nature.

“The truth is getting to where you want to be in life will not be easy. It’s tough road, and often less traveled. However just because something is hard does not mean it’s impossible. With attainable goals, and the motivation to achieve them, anything is possible.

Originally published in December 2009

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