Maria reaches for the STAR
A middle school student discovers that she, too, can succeed.
Many of us wish we were young again, but more than likely most of us wouldn’t want to relive the seventh grade. Middle school can be rough, especially if you are the new kid.
Being new to Marshall Middle School was just one of the challenges that faced Maria when she enrolled in the fall of 2004. She is also the oldest of five children, the younger four all under the age of six. On top of all this, she is the only person in her family that speaks English.
“I worry about stuff at home, like no food or money to pay bills,” said Maria.
The Skills to Succeed
Fortunately for Maria, Marshall Middle School is one of 19 Communities in Schools (CIS) project sites (a program that United Way of the Plains funds). CIS’ mission is to help kids stay in school and prepare for life.
They do this by providing five basic life tools: a one-on-one relationship with a caring adult; a safe place to learn and grow; a healthy start and healthy future; a marketable skill to use upon graduation; and an opportunity to give back to the community.
By working with a CIS tutor on a regular basis, Maria was able to learn the skills necessary to succeed in her new environment. She raised her grades a whole letter, and became highly involved in CIS activities, including community service and lunch groups.
Maria also became involved in other school activities, including Honors Choir, Student Council, Girl Scouts, and Robotics.
“I think it’s (CIS) good for everyone,” said Maria. “I learned to be organized, and where to go with questions.”
A STAR is born
Maria has excelled with the help of CIS. In fact, Maria has done so well that she was a STAR Award recipient for the 2004-2005 school year. The award means a lot to Maria, who had to receive letters of nomination from her teachers in order to win.
“Maria has faced many challenges at home, but has never had any serious attendance or behavior problems,” said one of her teachers in a nomination letter. Another teacher had great things to say about Maria also, saying, “She is a leader in class.”
Maria has accomplished much this year thanks to CIS. They believed in her and helped her rise to her full potential.
“I am proud of myself. It’s hard to ignore all the distractions, but it (the hard work) was worth it,” said Maria.