This is Ta’Von Allen, an eighth grader at the Partnership’s Archbishop Lyke School in Cleveland. He’s been having a year that seems so typical of many young people’s experiences. He switched schools. He made new friends, and navigated new challenges—and he spent a lot of time preparing for an event he was looking forward to, only to have plans change. In Ta’Von’s case, he prepared to be the student speaker at the Partnership-Cleveland Holiday Party—only to have to miss the event when he was feeling under the weather (he’s fine now).
But we felt that Ta’Von’s perspective on Archbishop Lyke—now in its second year as a Partnership School—was too interesting not to share. So imagine that you are in delightful company on a December evening in Cleveland as Ta’Von shares:
Good evening. My name is Ta’Von Allen, and I am an eighth grader at Archbishop Lyke School. I enjoy playing basketball, football, and rapping. I have a unique perspective on what makes our school special, because this is my first year at Archbishop Lyke—and I have something to compare it to.
Last summer, after transferring from public school, I worried that I wasn’t going to be accepted by new people. I thought this school would be a bunch of people walking around, dressed up and talking about God, and that it would not be as fun as public school. What I found is really different than that. So tonight I want to share four things with you that I appreciate about Partnership Schools.
First, the teachers. My public school was preparing us for high school and college, and Archbishop Lyke does that too. But at Archbishop Lyke, the teachers don’t just push us; they guide us. The teachers teach very well; they are more straightforward. Things that I didn’t understand at public school, I can understand more easily here–particularly in math, reading, social studies. I especially like the book we are reading right now, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. So a shout-out to Ms. Rutkowski, my English teacher.
I appreciate all my teachers, not because they give us consequences when we mess up or don’t listen–but they give us a chance to do better. And I can trust my teachers, so I’m not afraid to go to them if there is something I need to tell them.
I am not going to lie–it was hard to get used to tucking my shirt in every day.
Second, the uniform. I am not going to lie–it was hard to get used to tucking my shirt in every day. The uniform policy is strict about things like nails and hair, and we are expected to look professional. But I like that I am not distracted from learning by what people are wearing or what their hair looks like.
Third, I appreciate my new friends. I didn’t think I was going to be accepted, and thought I’d have to stick with my old friends. I wasn’t prepared to accept people, but then I got here and realized my classmates are good friends. So making friends was easy.
Finally, when I knew that we were going to be talking about God a lot, I have to admit I thought “I don’t have time for this.” But I realized I do need God as I move forward in life, and all the prayers are preparing me for my future too.
So to the teachers who are here, I want to say thank you. I know sometimes we make you mad when we don’t listen, but I appreciate how you are helping me and all of us learn.
To my mom and dad, who are here tonight, I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to attend Archbishop Lyke School where I can focus on God while getting a good education in a calm, safe environment.
And to the donors here, I also want to say thank you. Thank you for believing in our school community and all of the work that goes into making it a fun place to learn! Thank you for supporting me, and other students like me.
And on behalf of all the Partnership students in Cleveland, thank you, and Merry Christmas.