Student 2 Student Defining Moments
Dineesha Jones’ Defining Moment – Shoemaker High School
My life hasn’t always been filled with positive experiences, but my painful past shaped me into the person I am today. Life didn’t start making its way into something until I realized that I could become more than what I was.
My childhood is made up of the stuff you see in movies. But you see, my story is very real. A drug addict mother, whom I love with all my heart, because she is my family and we have stood by each other, through thick and thin. She stole from us to feed her habit, but worked hard to put a roof over our head. The only thing I knew of my father was the money he would send, when he sent it. There were nights not knowing if we’d eat, nights with no water or electricity, and nights, wondering if mom would ever, make it home.
But we survived. People would write me off as the girl who would be pregnant at 16 - A future drop out and a welfare case. I proved them wrong.
I’ve experienced child protective services, foster care, and a host of other things a young woman, shouldn’t have to at my age, but I am a survivor. I have to look at the bright side of my struggles. I qualify for financial aid for any college in the state of Texas where I am accepted, and I do plan on graduating from college.
See, my name is Dineesha Jones and I am a child that went through a lot. My past has made me who I am today, and I choose to embrace that past to motivate me for the future. I believe there is a reason for everything, and I will work hard to become everything I wasn’t supposed to be.
Deneesha received a standing ovation from the audience.
Joshua Leonard – Falcon High School
In high school, my dad, an officer in the Air Force, was deployed for a year. Being the oldest of 3 boys, I had to step up and take charge. I had to start doing the things my dad would normally do-such as replacing the headlights on the car or helping my little brothers fix their bikes. I knew I wasn’t a replacement for my dad, but I still wanted to keep life as close to normal as I could. I picked up my dad’s hard work ethic and leadership style over the years as he has always been my role model and mentor. A few months into my dad’s deployment, I noticed that I had begun doing random chores and housework without being asked just to help out my mom and younger brothers.
While helping out a lot at home, I kept a full plate at school as well. When my dad left for Afghanistan, he reminded me to keep doing the things I had a passion for. These included things like soccer where I was chosen to be our team’s captain, and being a part of my JROTC program where I took on multiple leadership positions. I learned to manage my time. I learned that you develop teamwork by being a team player. And mostly I learned that to be an effective leader you have to work harder than anyone else.
These school opportunities combined with my increased role to help at home really opened my eyes to how much work goes into being a leader. I learned firsthand that a good leader isn’t to be that person out front; a good leader is someone who looks for ways to serve others and reach their common goals by working hard together. Since that time of my dad’s deployment, I have done whatever I can to help someone in hopes of returning their life to normal. It’s one of the reasons I joined Student to student because I know what it’s like to be that new kid in school and I wanted to give back and help others. I know this experience has changed the way I look at things- especially those around me. And even after my dad returned safely from his deployment, I continue to find new ways to challenge myself to become that better leader, that better servant to those around me.
Benjamin Scott II’s Defining Moment – Steilacoom High School
This past November, I attended the Frances Hesselbein Student Leadership at the military academy at West Point. There was a part of my experience there that has had an everlasting affect on me. It was a history tour of the campus and historical sites of the previous instrumental military base during the victory of the Revolutionary War. One of the stops was the Old Cadet Chapel and the cemetery. In order to be buried at that cemetery, you have to have been a West Point cadet and died in the field of battle. Our tour guide was a history teacher, a young Major there and had an emotional connection to the cemetery. She shared with us that during her years as a cadet at West Point, she had a Plebe to look after. According to the Major, her Plebe, a young and smart woman, was amazing and was a great leader, solider, and most of all, friend. After only a year out of West Point, at the age of 23, she (the younger Plebe) was deployed to Iraq. During her deployment, her humvee was hit by a roadside bomb. She looked down to see that her body from the waist down was gone. She died a slow and painful death, on the comfortless foreign sands.
Our guide finished her story, walking off towards the War on Terror section of the cemetery. She rejoined us minutes later, eyes filled with tears. She had paid her respects.
It was at that moment when I know of what I would do the rest of my life. Whether it meant combating the domestic battleground of a high school lunch room, or joining the military myself, I will help serve this great nation in some way, shape, or form.
Hannah Cox - Enterprise High School
In the early afternoon of Thursday, March 1, 2007, Enterprise was hit by a devastating tornado during the February–March 2007 Tornado Outbreak. The tornado caused nine deaths, injured over 121 others, and left severe damage, becoming the worst disaster in Enterprise history. The worst damage occurred at Enterprise High School, where eight students died after one hallway was almost completely destroyed. The National Guard was called into the city, and a dusk-to-dawn curfew was implemented immediately after the disaster. President Bush, who arrived the morning of Saturday, March 3, declared the county a disaster area. As of June 2008 the Hillcrest Elementary School which was destroyed during the tornado was being rebuilt at the same site as the Enterprise High School. I, in the middle of all of the disaster, was a sixth grader attending an elementary school a mile or so away from the tornado site. Because the other elementary school, beside our high school was destroyed, those students had to come to our school for the rest of the year. We went to class from 8-12 and they went from 1-5. We had the opportunity to share what we had with other faculty and students, just as our community had to share homes, churches, and offer up time to help clean up and serve others. What the disaster made not only me, but the whole community, realize, was that “We may not have it all together, but together, we have it all”!
My parents have always raised me to be a very self assured individual, so to me moving just meant saying goodbye to old friends and saying hello to new ones. It was always a very positive experience. That is until eighth grade year when I was enrolled in a school that was not willing to accept me in any way because I was different than them. Instead of riding dirt bikes, I swung golf clubs for fun. Instead of listening to the latest band, I rocked out to smooth jazz. Because of this they were not willing to accept me as one of them, which became very clear when I realized I was the only straight A student in my grade that wasn’t allowed to be a part of their National Junior Honor Society because I did not receive an invitation. Going into Fort Walton Beach High School made me truly appreciative of being surrounded by kids who genuinely cared and held genuine concern for their new students. With their help I was able to regain every ounce of self assurance and confidence that was taken from me and use it to make a difference in the life of a little boy. A little boy whose father recently lost his job and whose mother had recently given birth to twin baby girls, one of which had a hole in her heart. The family was struggling to make ends meet, and with the help of my newfound S2S friends, we were able to deliver food and presents to them during the holiday season. I noticed that night that we weren’t just giving that little boy a Christmas dinner and gifts, we were giving him hope. The same care and concern we showed to him was the same that was shown to me by the members of S2S, and that is what the organization of S2S is about: genuine care, genuine concern, and using that to change lives one student at a time.