Willowbrook Middle School – #VoicesofJAF

July 25, 2016 by mitchellcohen
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 16:  Attendees and award winners are seen at the Jefferson Awards Foundation 2016 National Ceremony on June 16, 2016 in Washington City.  (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images for Jefferson Awards Foundation)

“When I tell people from California that I am from Compton, they immediately think ‘poor, gangs, and not the best.’ However, Students In Action has allowed us to show that it doesn’t matter where you come from and you can still excel from it. And now we can change the way people think of Compton”

Most Students In Action (SIA) teams have the goal of bettering their communities and inspiring others to join their cause. Yet Willowbrook Middle School SIA is dreaming even bigger: their goal is to change the perception of their entire city.

Last school year they took up the task by cleaning up their school, starting a recycling program, and hosting a clothing drive. Next they’re determined to find care for stray dogs in their community. These projects earned them top honors in the Los Angeles region where they competed against other SIA teams to earn a trip to the Jefferson Awards National Ceremony in Washington, DC. In June, 23 Willowbrook students hopped on a plane to talk about their projects and meet with other young leaders in the Nation’s capitol.

Daniela Perez had the chance to speak on stage in a room full of fellow Jefferson Award winners about Willowbrook SIA. She said, “When I tell people from California that I am from Compton, they immediately think ‘poor, gangs, and not the best.’ However, Students In Action has allowed us to show that it doesn’t matter where you come from and you can still excel from it. And now we can change the way people think of Compton.”

In addition, two students met with former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who interviewed them on stage at the formal gala. Relando Collier, Jr. told him, “we noticed that if we want people to stop looking at us because of where we’re from, we have to do something about it. We decided to clean up our community and get our community looking right so we have something to brag about.” And they certainly do. Compton has a bright future ahead. To learn more, visit comptonschoolsuccess.org.

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