Contrasts In Contrast

Cedric Jennings, Ballou graduate and a man making his way.There were two stories in the Post today that got me thinking.

The first was about a student at an “elite” public high school who was expelled for a 2.8 grade point average. Seems pretty crazy to kick out a kid for a B-minus. As I was reading, the reporter led me to believe that this kid probably belonged at the school. I hope everyone, though, read to the end.

[The student] rejected her offers to work with him during lunch or activity periods, saying he was too busy with Model United Nations, sports and the yearbook.

His grades were not the best, but he had great test scores. Seems like he was having motivation issues. His parents said

their son Matthew has been mistreated. “I believe that the rule is absurd and is doing more harm to our students than good,” Liz Nuti said. The parents acknowledge that Matthew has trouble organizing his time. But “he is a happy, healthy, well-rounded child with no vices“.

But being happy and health with no vices is not a requirement for the school. Doing really well in math and science is. I am sorry that the kid couldn’t get his act together. And even though it’s a tough call, he was on notice and it’s appropriate that the Fairfax school system is letting him experience the consequences of his actions.

‘Cuz not everyone has it so good and easy. You know with dad an engineer, mom an accountant and two older sibs that have blazed the trail for you–and likely greased the wheels so you can get in to a great school. That not everyone can go to. Even if they are smart. Not everyone has alot of chances.

Which is the second article that got stuck in my thinkings. This one is about an incredible young man, Cedric Jennings, who “as a boy clawed out of a Southeast Washington ghetto and over the Ivy gates.” And today he is wondering if he is doing enough. He has the weight of the world on his shoulders–a grad of Brown, Harvard and U-Mich–back in D.C. trying to make a difference in people’s lives. A social worker. And wondering if he is acting on too small a stage. Is he fulfilling his potential? The expectations?

My heart breaks for this 31-year old man who is still struggling to do the right thing. He is still trying to figure out the best ways to apply his prodigious talent and drive. He knows he is responsible for himself. He knows that his choices and his actions have consequences. He is fighting Peter Parker‘s battle, “with great power comes great responsibility.” He knows this is important.

I wish both the boy and the man in these two contrasting stories peace.

3 thoughts on “Contrasts In Contrast

  1. I think that you are right, he knew the standards and failed to keep up. There are other schools, and unfortunately he has lost his chance with this school. Hopefully he will be able to take something good away from this difficult lesson. Life isn’t always easy.


  2. Sorry I was obtuse in the entry. Here’s what I think. The kid got kicked out because he goes to an exclusive, highly competitive school which doesn’t allow just any kid in, and he didn’t hold up his part of the bargain. He was told the rules before the school year started, had resources available to improve his grades (he along with 32 other “at-risk” kids) and didn’t meet the criteria. It’s a tough thing to have to experience the consequences of your behavior. Maybe less time on the gridiron, less time being clever and more time hitting the books would have helped. Any single C or D that he raised a grade would have kept him in. He didn’t believe the school would follow through, though. He said so in the article.I think that he is a smart and capable student and given the resources and advantages in his family, he will do well. Even if he has to go to a “regular” public school. Tough lesson, but people have to learn that what you do actually matters.


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