SAQWAN BRADLEY

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I’ve been attending Bright Futures Academy since I was in the 6th grade and I am now in the 10th grade. Before, I went to a public school. I misbehaved. I got into a lot of fights and it just went on and on in the public school. I got into fights because of peer pressure and a lot of stuff going on in the neighborhood. I had to claim my space.

The culture at Bright Futures has less negativity. It’s like a family. When you come here, you feel included in everything going on. You feel welcome, safe and secure. You don’t have to check yourself with bullies, because everyone is cool with each other.

I felt at my public school, elementary school just didn’t count. You were just there. But academically, at Bright Futures, everything is better.

“When you come here…you feel welcome, safe and secure.”

I want to be in the technology industry when I get older. I play basketball now, but that’s not my main goal, it’s just something I like to do. I also do music, producing, and rapping. But I want to be a video game designer or computer technician.

Bright Futures has opened me to new experiences. It changed the way I acted because I was immature, and now I’m more mature. It changed my behavior. It made me realize how much of a kid I really was. Now I know how to act more like myself. Bright Futures opened my eyes to another world.

Bright Futures also helped me with what I want to do. Today, I’m going to a studio, provided by my school. I produce rap and a lot of people play basketball there. The technology is helping me get used to programming computers. If someone’s computer is broken, they now call me. I’m the IT guy on campus because of everything I’ve learned.

A lot of the teachers at Bright Futures are male. I like it because you know, everyone’s got personal problems. A boy wouldn’t feel comfortable going to a lady, and talking about personal problems, like if it was about a girl, or something like that. The main teacher I go to is Mr. Jules. He probably knows my whole life story. I’ve talked to him about everything. The male teachers know what we go through as young, African American males. They look to us and try to push us to be better, to be stronger, and I like that.

I like the lady teachers too, but the male teachers I feel like they make us stronger. They push us to be our best selves. If they see something wrong, they know how to address me. Some of them you can look up to as a father figure, if you don’t have one. When you have a male teacher you’re close with, there you go, he’s a father figure.

What school you go to and the neighborhood you come from, that’s going to affect how you act. If you go to school with folks fighting and gang banging, and drugs running around, if you adapt to your community and situation, then you’re going to be part of it. Unless you can get out. Some people escape their circumstances and they grow stronger. But I feel like the school you choose is how you’re going to escape.

“Wherever you choose to go, that’s what your outcome is going to be.”

I could have gone somewhere else, but my cousin went to Bright Futures, and my mom asked if I wanted to give it a chance. She read the reviews and I said yes. I didn’t want to be a gang banger. I wanted to be someone new. I wanted to graduate from college. It’s rough where I come from. That’s why school choice is important to me.

Outside of the academic part, Bright Futures is a family. There’s summer camp. They keep us busy year-round. When I was in middle school, and not at summer school, I was with my cousins. They were drug dealing and doing crazy stuff and that was what I was exposed to. Being males, I would have seen them as role models and I may have done that myself. Instead, now that I am at Bright Futures, I am safe and secure, and I don’t have to worry about all that.

Everybody has a chance to change. You can change who you are. You can change people’s perception of you, based on how you grew up. People who have known me, know that I was a hothead. I was disrespectful and I didn’t care what people thought. I would just do anything just to do it. It came to a point where, because of Bright Futures, I listened to the advice of my male figures and teachers and folks around me. I changed for the better. Now I’m ready to give back. After I graduate and go off to college, I plan to give back to this school.

BECOME A VOICE FOR CHOICE
BECOME A VOICE FOR CHOICE