Thursday, December 31, 2009

Welcome 2010!!

As I was thinking about what to write to summarize 2009, I also noticed it's the end of a decade! In some ways I've come a long way since January 1, 2000: graduating high school, going on a mission, getting two degrees; but in other ways it seems like I'm stuck in time. Oh well. I guess my next post will have to deal with the passing decade of the "'00's". On to 2010!

Like my previous post, it seems half the year was dominated by negative things while the latter half seemed to have enough positive things to give me a better feeling about the year and hopes heading into 2010. Much of what I mentioned in my heroes and villains list will be mentioned here as well.

I began the year worried sick about student teaching, which started at the end of January. In the end, I was able to pass and do well enough, though it was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. There were too many days I had to completely force myself to go to school because I was completely unmotivated. It wasn't that I didn't like the students or being a teacher, but student teaching is all the stress of actual teaching, with the added stress of constant observation and feeling like you are being measured not by how good a teacher you are but how well you emulate the cooperating teacher and/or supervisor's methods. Added to that other coursework I was taking during student teaching as part of my master's degree and outside stresses, and I have concluded it was by the grace of God that I finished it. By the end I got more into a rhythm and as I said, I really enjoyed the students I worked with. But all in all, I'm glad it's OVER. It ended April 26. I'm glad I will never have to student teach again.

Left: Last day of student teaching at Southeast Middle School (April 24)
leading the 7th grade choir in warmups; Right: MAT poster presentations
with my good friends Mari and Erica (one of my 2009 Heroes!!) at the KSU
student center in May. I finished my poster amidst a mostly empty
house as this was just a few days before we moved.

2009 also began with our home being placed on the market by our mortgage company (GMAC who just got ANOTHER $3.8 billion in bailout assistance...GRRRRR) to avoid it going to foreclosure. So, while I was student teaching, when I was home, I occasionally had to deal with prospective buyers who wanted to tour the house. There were multiple times the real-estate company wanted us to leave a key for them. my home and everything in it to complete strangers. Riiiiiight. I had enough of a problem with it WHILE we were home. I think we had 3 or 4 in the three months it was on the market. We were told if it didn't sell in 90 days, then it would go into foreclosure and we'd be out sometime in the summer or early fall. As I blogged the day I found out, it was sold to our neighbors (who made my 2009 Villains list for this purchase!) for a fraction of what it was worth. Initially, GMAC wanted us out in like 2 weeks, but my dad was able to get us a month; and we needed every day of it.

Losing the house was more traumatic than I ever thought it would be. I secretly cried in the bathroom at my brother's apartment in Maryland the day I found out we were losing it. During the whole process I was rarely sad about it, but instead I was furious. I still find myself angry over the whole thing. Basically, the people affected most by everyone else's actions -- my mom, my sister, and myself -- had no say in anything and had the least amount of resources to do much else. It was frustrating to say the least. Thank goodness for family and friends who helped not only physically but mentally as well. Having a place that I considered mine ripped away from me was very difficult. I still find myself having dreams about being back there knowing it isn't ours but we still have stuff there and it's time to be gone and we still have so much to move. I haven't been back in our old neighborhood since we left May 14th and I don't know when or if I ever will go back. Something very personal and important was taken away from me and turned into something else.

Left: The house in happier days back in Spring '08; Right: The empty living
room one last time on May 14 right before we left

Having my graduation delayed until August was pretty rough too. I found out right as we were heading down the home stretch in moving and finishing student teaching. It was like my world was completely unraveling. I had already bought my robes and hood for commencement (which I never used) and had invited family to come. And then to find that everything that needed to be taken care of was little more than changing paperwork and could only be done by my absent-minded advisor (but of course the College of Ed claimed it was completely my fault) made it even worse. I finished my final project for my graduate class amidst a mostly empty house but still tons of stuff still needing to be packed and moved.

The good thing that came out of me not graduating was, of course, that Mom and I were able to attend Heather's graduation from medical school. That was a HUGE diversion from the stress we had just endured and was a welcome change of scenery even if it was just for a few days. My Spring Break trip down there was also a lot of fun and was a major highlight of the year. It came after several weeks of school and no major break (like 5 or 6 straight) so I was sooooo ready for it. I was able to make two more visits to Andy and Heather in '09, including a late-July trip to their new home in Nashville and a return trip with my sister Katie for Thanksgiving. Both trips were welcome breaks from the same-old-same-old here and a chance to relax.

Left: finishing off the extra frosting with Andy & Heather April 6...I would
find out the next day the house had been sold; Right: walking the streets of
Baltimore after Heather's graduation May 15.

Left: In front of the Parthenon in Nashville with Andy & Heather August 4;
Right: Thanksgiving at Andy & Heather's November 26.

Two of the biggest thrills for me this year were the shows I was able to be in: This is Kirtland! and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I knew coming into the year I wanted to do This is Kirtland! again, but Joseph, as I mentioned in a previous post, was something that just kind of fell into my lap. This is Kirtland! filled an important role as practices had just started not too long before we finished moving. Having rehearsal -- and later the performances -- was a wonderful distraction from what was going on here with moving and then unpacking and adjusting. Joseph proved to be a nice distraction, but not nearly as much mostly because I had already adjusted; it was more a help in dealing with not having a full-time job. But even then, both were things I enjoyed going to because I was doing what I love to do (perform) and I was around people in both casts that were easy to get along with and enjoyable to be around.

Left: Opening scene of This is Kirtland! as Sidney Rigdon;
Right: in my costume as Pharaoh with Amanda Davis (Narrator)
and Aaron Darr (Joseph) after the final performance of Joseph
December 20 at Weathervane Playhouse

Left: With Sarah Bailey (left), director of Joseph and Melanie YC Pepe,
producer of Joseph and director of the After School program for
Weathervane after the final show of Joseph December 20 after 2
shows and striking the set! WHEW!; Right: with the kids that played
my children in This is Kirtland! in front of the real Kirtland Temple July 24.

There were other wonderful events I was glad to be a part of this year, like my trip to Cleveland with Michelle to see Ohio State crush Toledo 38-0 at Cleveland Browns Stadium on September 19 (my first OSU game since 1996) and the amazing ward Christmas Sacrament program just a few days ago where I was able to sing O Holy Night and direct the choir. Of course I also enjoyed having some time to explore Kent history both reading and getting tons of pictures. Not only was the weather fantastic this summer, but I actually had the time to do something about it. I also really enjoyed getting to sub in Kent this Fall and work in the Akron Public Schools through Weathervane as part of the district's Akron After School enrichment program teaching theater games for an hour 5 times a week. Not only did I get to meet some great teachers and administrators at the school I worked at and at Weathervane, but I also made some good friends who were working in the After School program and in Joseph (love ya Marie, Robyn, and Melanie!).

Left: Michelle and me at Cleveland Browns Stadium for the
Ohio State-Toledo game September 19; Right: me with Marie Smith
at Friendly's after the final Joseph show December 20. Marie worked
in the crew of Joseph and was also a teacher in the After School
program with me. We had a lot of fun swapping stories from
our schools and after a show at a certain Applebees ;)

Of course one of the biggest thrills for me this year was getting to finally be an uncle. It will only be surpassed when I finally become a dad. I was excited for my nephew Nathan to be born, but getting to meet him this Christmas was so wonderful. It made Christmas, which at times was less than thrilling, a little less boring. Like I blogged last year, Christmas isn't as magical as it used to be for a variety of reasons, but having a baby in my arms for much of it made it a little more magical (especially at my Ridinger grandparents' house where we basically watch the younger cousins open presents) even though he slept through pretty much all of Christmas at both places! I'm hoping to be able to go visit Utah at the end of March.

Some various pics of me with Nate while he was here in Kent. The middle
picture is me trying out his Christmas present before I gave it to him :D

Left: How Nate and I spent most of Christmas at Derbys in the morning and
then at Ridingers (center) that afternoon!! Right: An update of me and
my sibs, December 31.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Personal Heroes and Villains of 2009

This has been quite a year for me. I had hoped to do another Christmas newsletter, but for one reason or another, I didn't get it done. Be it laziness, lack of motivation, or just being too busy, it just didn't happen again. Even then, I have been reflecting a lot about this year because I am truly happy to see it end. That's not to say some wonderful things didn't happen, but some pretty awful things did happen; things that have been more difficult to deal with than I ever thought possible. So I got to thinking about the people that really affected my year -- the good and the bad -- and why. Without further ado here is my personal list of 2009 Heroes and Villains.

Grandma & Grandpa Derby: Of course most my family (particularly my immediate family) is always up there, but this year my Derby grandparents really saved the day. When we found out we could possibly lose our house last year they did not hesitate to offer us a place to stay. When the unthinkable finally happened in May of this year, they not only helped us move, but opened their home to us for virtually nothing. It hasn't been perfect as we have meshed two households and two largely different ways of doing things, but we've made it work. They have sacrificed so much just to make sure we have a place to live and continue our lives and that we have the resources to get on with our lives from here. Words cannot express how grateful I am for all they have done for us just this year, not to mention for pretty much every year of my life. I do not know where I would be right now without them!

Elwin & Diane Robison: Moving was not a pleasant experience, but it was made even more unpleasant by not having money to rent a moving van and the fact that we were moving out of the house we had lived in for 26 years. This is where the Robisons stepped in. Not only did they volunteer countless hours to help us pack, but they also donated the use of their van and trailer to help transport things from our old house to Derbys. And no, this is not the first time they've come to the rescue. They've always been there and I'm grateful especially for the help they were in moving. Diane was especially helpful in getting things organized and helping Mom decide what to keep and what to get rid of, not to mention a moral support.

Charlie Carey, Nate Jeppson, & Christopher Bowers: These were three members of our local ward (congregation) who helped load and unload the many vanloads we had to take from the house to Derbys over the month we moved. It was so comforting to know we had some support from our ward family at a time of great need. It also made moving go just a little bit quicker. Thanks for just being there!!!

Erica Woolf: Erica was one of my friends from the Master of Arts in Teaching program I completed this May at Kent State. We first met as members of the same cohort in the Summer 2008 semesters and had our classes together for Fall semester 2008 and Spring semester 2009. When she found out about what was going on with us needing to move, she almost immediately offered her truck to help. When I actually asked her if we could use it, she not only brought it, but helped us move even though she lived around an hour from Kent and had two young daughters to take care of. Not only did I enjoy her company (and her adorable daughters!), but having her truck that day was a great help in getting some of our larger furniture items out of the house quicker. I miss you Erica!!

The Aamodt Family: I have to list the Aamodt family because they helped without even really knowing it. I had just found out we would be losing the house when I was down visiting Andy & Heather in April when Grandpa Aamodt died. Being down there, I attended the funeral with Andy & Heather. The Aamodts welcomed me like an I was family (I had previously met them at Andy & Heather's wedding) and really helped me keep my mind off what I would be facing when I got back to Kent, even when they were dealing with the loss of a loved one. I saw them again about a month and a half later when Mom and I attended Heather's graduation from medical school in Baltimore. We literally walked away from our home of 26 years for the last time and went straight to Maryland. Again, the Aamodts (including Grandma Robison!!!!) treated us like family and helped Mom and I feel loved and wanted. Looking back, I am glad we decided to do that even though it made the last few days of moving a bit hectic. I can't say enough about how the Aamodts helped keep my mind off of what had just happened.

Basically, all my heroes were those who helped us in some way and showed us true examples of what it means to be Christlike. Thank you all for being such great people and living what you believe.


GMAC: GMAC was the mortgage company that is responsible for the loss of our house. True, my dad shares some of the blame for accepting such an insane mortgage, but in the end GMAC is the company approved it and who obviously felt that money was far more important than keeping people in their home. Not only did they do nothing to help us get an affordable mortgage, but they did a short-sale on our house, selling it for less that $5,000 more than we paid for it in 1983.

The Colliers: Many would argue our former neighbors were just taking advantage of an opportunity that presented itself. Indeed, they even stated they bought our house for practically nothing for the neighborhood's sake to prevent it from becoming a rental house for KSU students. Whatever their reason, they did buy the house which resulted in our being forced to leave. On top of that they had the audacity to claim I was trying to burn the place down when I removed the motion detector lights on our front porch we had installed and I left the exposed wires there in the ceiling (apparently they were touching when they saw them). Before this all happened, I had a good relationship with them. We occasionally talked and seemed to all be on the same page about neighborhood security after Mr. Collier's parents (his other neighbors) got robbed in the middle of the day last summer. But the way this unfolded tainted my view. They had a chance to really be heroes or at least appear more benevolent when we needed a miracle, but instead it felt like they swooped in behind our backs and took full advantage of us like they couldn't wait to rid the neighborhood of us. They claimed they bought our house with every last cent they had for their destitute son, yet as soon as we left suddenly had money to replace every major appliance and make extensive repairs and upgrades to the house. Did I expect them to buy the house and let us stay? No, but I would've walked away feeling better if they had at any time talked to us and let us know they even cared, like finding out if we even had a place to go. Had my mom not gone over and talked to them we would've moved and they would've never said a word.

Cutler Real Estate: I know, the real estate company was just doing their job, but I guess I still see them as accomplices in this whole thing. Basically, we were not on the same team; their goal conflicted with ours so I had no motivation to work with them. Clean the house? Don't mention any major problems? Oh and having our privacy constantly invaded was just wonderful. I just loved having complete strangers walk through our entire house so they could pass their judgments and take inventory of what we owned.

Nancy Miller
: Ms. Miller was one of the people I had difficulties communicating with last year whom I referred to as the "OGS Contact" in my post "My Angry and Accusatory side". While I already had a negative impression of her going in to 2009, it wasn't until April that she truly cemented her villain title. That was when I got a letter informing me that I wouldn't be graduating in May with my classmates. Why? It wasn't because I was missing any credits or hadn't taken the right classes; it was because my advisor hadn't changed my prospectus (list of planned classes) to include the substitutions we had agreed on and because a professor (who also happened to be that same advisor) hadn't changed my grade from an incomplete to a letter grade before the University's arbitrary deadline. In other words a simple matter of paperwork. So simple, in fact, that when it finally did get taken care of by my new advisor in May, it took all of one day for her to do it. Nancy Miller, though, is one of those people who seem to delight in putting students "in their place" as subjects and minions of the University. She has her little fiefdom and woe unto you if you dare question her royal highness. When I did come to her, she was not nice in any way and basically treated me like a total idiot, like somehow I was supposed to know everything about how the MAT program worked even though I had never been in graduate school before. Nancy Miller had a chance to be a hero by realizing that the spirit of the law (making sure students have all the necessary credits to graduate) was more important than the letter of the law (the arbitrary deadlines). All it would've taken was a few mouse-clicks and maybe a letter to someone who needed it. But no, exercising her power was far more important than showing any kind of sympathy or compassion, even as I dealt with one of the most difficult events of my life. And no, my negative experiences with Nancy Miller were not unique. Every other student I talked with who had to deal with had the same opinion I did of her. She was very pleasant and professional to her colleagues, but that pleasant nature vanished when she dealt with a lowly student. I hope one day she gets to see how her actions affected those she was supposed to be serving in the Office of Graduate Student SERVICES. See also my post "Wow can this year suck any more?!?"

Linda Walker
: Dr. Walker was the aforementioned advisor and the professor I first blogged about at the end of the Fall semester last year. I usually referred to her just as my professor and/or my advisor when I blogged (also see "Enduring to the end"). She was my professor for one class Fall 2008 and she was the director of Music Education for KSU. I ended up having to do an additional 10 reports as her way of being gracious and not giving me a D in that class because of my mix-up in not turning in the required reports when I thought I had (A 'D' would've essentially been a failing grade and prevented me from graduating without retaking the class). I did them and turned them in as agreed on and waited for the grade to be changed. Well, the deadline came and went and nothing was changed, which contributed to my not officially graduating until August, as I previously mentioned. She also nearly botched my student teaching when she assumed it was the College of Education's responsibility to find me a supervising teacher. Only after I raised the red flag did that get taken care of and not a moment too soon. Had I waited any longer I may have had to repeat student teaching for no fault of my own. Of course she never apologized for that. But that seemed to be the story of my time with her as my advisor. Not only did that nearly get botched, but most of the time I felt like she was clueless about what I was supposed to be doing. Granted, I was the first music student to go through the MAT in 10 years. I knew that, so was very understanding and patient at the beginning. But I could only have so much patience when that person wasn't doing what she needed to to help me get through the program and had such an obvious dislike and disdain for me by the Spring semester I started wondering if I'd ever graduate. And then to top it off, I make a small mistake not turning in an assignment and she acts like I'm the world's worst student. All she needed to do to be a hero was do her job and she failed miserably by not attending meetings (she admitted that to me) and letting her personal feelings influence how she did her job in relation to me. I wonder if her resignation as director of Music Education at the end of the Spring 2009 had anything to do with me, but all I can say is that resignation came a semester too late. The icing on the cake was she couldn't even find the time to send me an e-mail that she was no longer my advisor after I had sent her several about getting the Prosepectus problem taken care or. The MAT director was the person who let me know that. It's sad because I initially liked Dr. Walker after working with her in high school through choir. Even initially as my advisor we got things taken care of and problems solved, but the more we met and talked, the more things got worse, especially after the whole report fiasco. It's a scary thought when the person who has complete control over your graduation obviously doesn't like you.

Basically, the people who made my villains list are people who affected my life negatively but had the chance to be heroes had they made different choices. Instead they chose to follow their own emotions or what the world dictates should happen rather than choose compassion, benevolence, or understanding. Basically, they took the humanity out of our interactions. It was frustrating, sad, and disgusting all at the same time and I'm glad it's over and I don't have to deal with these people anymore. Dealing with the above has taught me a lot about what forgiveness really is and how hard it can be and how much I need to work in it! Time to move on to bigger and better things!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Go go go Joe!

It would be a major travesty if I didn't do a post about my appearance in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat before we end our run this Sunday. I was cast as Pharaoh what seems like an eternity ago back in September. Of course I knew it would be fun, but I don't think I ever thought it would be as enjoyable as it has been, though I certainly had hopes. Now, here we are with just three shows left this weekend and then it's done. Hard to believe!!

I don't think I realized until I went to the first cast meeting that this was a Young Actors Series production, meaning the cast was almost entirely made up of people mostly between 14 and 21. I guess my first clue was when I was introduced as one of the "grown-ups" at that first cast meeting. Oh well...I really wasn't sure what to expect at that point, though it was obvious my fellow cast members were well-experienced in theater and dance. My main expertise was in singing of course. It's not that I felt intimidated, but a lot less experienced, which was the opposite of what it was like for me in This is Kirtland! Yes, I hardly lack theater experience, but one show a year four of the last five years is nothing compared to what most of these kids do. Many of them are in one show after the other and sometimes they're starting a new show while another one is still in performance. We even have one cast member who is two shows at the same time.

I think I had a slight worry it wasn't going to be as fun as This is Kirtland! mostly because of my lack of familiarity with the show, theater, and the cast, not to mention the age difference between me and many cast members. Thankfully I had nothing to worry about. Not only has Weathervane proved to be an awesome theater to work with, but the cast has been just as enjoyable to be around as This is Kirtland! These cast members are good; they know they're good, but honestly I've never felt like they're diva/o's about it (for the most part). Yes, the high school/middle school drama has made appearances, particularly as the show has been in performance, but it's nice to be a stabilizing voice :).

The amazing thing to me is how this all came about. Really, I got to know some new people, both of whom work at Weathervane. Because of them I got involved with the Akron After-School Program (which was actually a lot of fun!) and this show. I wasn't even looking to do a show at all; I was pretty much looking forward to next Summer when This is Kirtland! comes back (which I WILL be at!). My friend John let me know they needed someone to audition for the role of Pharaoh and Jacob in Joseph. I had heard of the show, but had never seen it. So, I watched it with John and Jasen (my Weathervane connections) so I had somewhat of an idea of what it was like. I auditioned the next day and I could tell it went well (I sang part of "We Kiss in a Shadow" from King and I) and I came back for callbacks the next day and knew I did well. I mean, if I hadn't gotten the part I wouldn't have been heartbroken. Because of my age, I was only eligible for Jacob, Potiphar, or Pharaoh.

The part of Pharaoh has been so much fun (I also appear briefly in Act I as the head Ishmaelite). It's also been a challenge. Not only have I really had to do some acting, but I really had to study up on Elvis Presley's sound and dance moves. Pharaoh's character is pretty much the opposite of me (as is the head Ishmaelite), plus I've never been much of a dancer (not that I have become one), so moving my legs and hips like Elvis didn't exactly come naturally. But I'm happy with the progress I've made and have gotten lots of wonderful compliments from audience members, even the elder generation who actually saw Elvis perform!

Anyway, we've had a great run...hard for me to believe it's almost over! I've learned a lot, had tons of fun, and made a bunch of new friends. I'm really sad to see it end, but at least I know how much I love doing Theater and being on stage. Not that I didn't already know that, but now I know that even more and am hoping to do another show before This is Kirtland! comes up again. If only I could do what I enjoy most AND make some type of living from it!! Sigh...that's for another time I guess. :) Go go go JOE!!! Thank you to all the awesome cast and crew are all amazing and I hope to see you all in shows again!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Roosevelt named a "Best High School" by US News

After the bad news a few weeks ago, it was definitely nice to pick up the newspaper and see this on the front page of the December 12 Record-Courier:

Yes, Roosevelt was named in the US News & World Report 2010 "America's Best High Schools" issue. Like with any ranking system for something so large (21,786 high schools analyzed), when looking over it, one must look at the methodology behind the study. Why is it one of the best? Based on what? For instance, Newsweek released their own "Best High Schools" list a few months ago and Roosevelt was nowhere to be found. Why? Because Newsweek's study focused on AP scores and how many students took AP classes at a given school. As a result, what I call the typical "heavyweights" -- the local high schools that typically do well on standardized tests and are in communities with higher median incomes -- were well represented in that ranking. These are places like Shaker Heights, Chagrin Falls, Solon, Hudson, etc. They are usually regarded quite highly educationally and for good reason: they have excellent facilities, more educational opportunities and resources, and many, if not most, of the students come from wealthier and highly educated backgrounds and largely stable families. In other words, it is more likely for these schools to not only have a larger percentage of students who take AP (Advanced Placement) classes, but do well on the tests associated with them. In the US News study, however, none of the traditional "heavyweights" made the list at all as it focused on other factors such as looking at the performance of students classified as "economically disadvantaged" and minorities. Roosevelt was one of only 8 schools in the region to make the entire list, and one of only 46 to be listed in the entire state. Roosevelt's ranking was a "Bronze Medal", the third highest ranking after the Gold Medal (top 100) and Silver Medal (461 schools). 1,189 schools in 48 states and Washington, DC were rated as "Bronze Medal" schools. What that means is that of the three major criteria used, Roosevelt did well in two. The other criterion, in this case, was either too low or not measured. Basically, Roosevelt did well when the magazine analyzed it's state proficiency test scores for low-income and minority students. Roosevelt is a somewhat diverse school, but is still predominantly white (87% from US News, 82% from the state of Ohio). To see the entire methodology explanation for this study, click here. The third criterion was based on AP scores and percentage of students who take AP or similar college-level classes (I personally think AP classes are harder than typical college classes). Roosevelt has eight AP classes available and usually does well on AP tests, but I would imagine the percentage of seniors who take them may have been what hurt there. It's not abnormally low, but compared to the schools that made the top 100, it probably isn't all that impressive. There are, of course, a lot of factors as to why certain students take AP classes and how well they do, many of which have little to do with the school itself.

One statistic that stood out to me was 84% of Roosevelt students classified as "economically disadvantaged." I'd first like to know what US News means by "economically disadvantaged" since that just seems a little high to me. Granted, there are a lot of students here who are poor, but there are also quite a few who are either middle class and even upper middle class. It's really quite a mix in Kent not only with race and ethnicity, but also financial status. The state, for instance, had only 26% of Roosevelt's students classified as "economically disadvantaged" according to the most recent state report card (it also had slightly different racial percentages, but not that much different). Obviously, there are two very different definitions and thresholds being used here.

That said, I've always felt Kent City Schools overall has done a good job in closing the gap between the students who come to school with a strong educational background and those who do not for whatever reasons. The state report cards always have Roosevelt doing as well as any of the other high schools in the area that come from districts rated "Excellent." Because of test scores at the elementary schools, Kent is rated "Effective," again because they typically have to play "catch up" for so many students. Holden Elementary School, for example, has 62% of its students classified as "economically disadvantaged" by the state and many come from very poor and unstable families. And yet, by high school, Kent students are right up there on the state test scores with students at other high schools who come largely from more stable and in many cases wealthier families. About 10 years ago, the Cincinnati Enquirer did a study and ranked Kent best in the state when actual test scores were compared with expected test scores, based on socioeconomic status. While a person's financial status doesn't guarantee a specific educational outcome, we do know it has a significant influence on a large amount of people. In other words, it is more likely for a student who comes from a poor, unstable home to not do well in school than it is for someone who comes from a better-off and stable home. And there are *always* exceptions, for sure, both good and bad. And no, standardized test scores are by no means a "tell-all" stat, nor are the state report cards. They tell just part of what is going on at a school.

Even then, it is still exciting for an outside group, particularly one at the national level, to recognize your school for anything positive like this. As an alum and community member and now as an employee, I'm very proud of my alma mater! Go Kent!

See also:
Oh, and seeing the following on the top of the same front page and in the sports section didn't hurt either. :) It's an appropriate title given the fact that in sports this year, Roosevelt has won every meeting between the two schools in every sport except the one-point overtime loss in football.