Delaware Today magazine 302 DT Reads: Prestige Academy in Wilmington is a charter school that is transforming the lives of its students
The Ties That Bind: At Prestige Academy, it’s about tough beginnings and honorable endings.
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The Long Haul
Jackson-Wright struggled. He lacked confidence and pride. Daveon Rogers-Miller, on the other hand, had too much of it. A tall, sturdy, handsome kid, Rogers-Miller thought he was too cool for school. He also started attending Prestige during the fall of 2008. According to his mother, Janean Rogers of Newark, he did everything in his power to get kicked out.
“He just didn’t care,” she says. “He had a total, non-caring attitude about the whole thing. And he tried his hardest to not be in that school. He got smart with teachers, talked back, fell asleep in class. But there was no way I was going to let him leave that school. He was gonna’ stay there.”
And stay he did, reluctantly weathering the transition into a culture that forbid him from sailing through without personal accountability. Coming from a family environment where his mother raised him as the older of two children, Rogers-Miller was headed down the wrong path by the age of 10.
“My friends didn’t go to class. Didn’t care about school,” says Rogers-Miller, sitting in a leather chair inside Perry’s Prestige office. Even though he’s much taller than Justin-Wright (and his voice almost an octave deeper), he speaks with a similarly hushed quality, almost as though he’s still surprised by his newfound articulation and respect. Like seeing a boy try on his father’s suit, it’s rather endearing to witness.
“My friends outside the school are not on the same track as me,” says Rogers-Miller. “Most of them smoke. I used to do it and it’s a bad choice I made. But I stopped and started playing basketball. Got myself on the right track.”
Regardless of his confidence in the path he has chosen, Rogers-Miller says he still weathers taunts from peers who don’t understand why anyone would prefer to attend an all-boys charter school that requires students to get up at 5:30 in the morning, put on a shirt and tie, and do homework until 11 o’clock at night.
“They’re like, ‘Why do you go to that school? That’s dumb. All boys and no girls?’ But I don’t say nothin’. Because I think I’ve got a better chance in life than they do now,” he says. “They’re just doing what everyone in the crowd’s doing. But I don’t pay them any mind. I want more for my life.”
His mother sometimes struggles to articulate the magnitude of her son’s transformation at Prestige and the significance of the young man he’s turning out to be—the one who plays starting center for Prestige’s basketball team. This is a young man who wants to major in psychology, and believes he will eventually own his own business.
“His mind is clear now and he’s headed straight,” says Janean. “Before it was just basketball, basketball, basketball. Now he wants to finish school. He wants to go to college. He sees what he needs to do. It’s a totally different Daveon."
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