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'Students of Promise' help students overcome their past, plan for the future

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Posted at 7:00 PM, Oct 07, 2020

MAPLE HEIGHTS, Ohio — Students of Promise is a program that protects about 80 students at Maple Heights High School from challenges that have already consumed plenty of teens with promise.

“At first, I thought I never wanted to go to college,” said Deonte Abrams, a senior with big plans. But before any of that, he had big problems.

“Sometimes it’s tardy, which goes along with attendance,” he said. “Sometimes it’s behavior issues, but at the same time, you can join the program by referral.”

“I have had this group, specifically, since they were sophomores.” Michael Hollins is Deonte’s linkage coordinator through Students of Promise. He saw what his group of students was capable of, and his charge was to make them see as well.

“Words have power,” he said. “I knew if I spoke into their lives the right way, they’d become who they are….just the words, ‘I believe in you.”

Deonte is now on track to graduate, and his goal-setting has become contagious.

“It helped me in ways I never thought it would,” said senior Kiara McGee about the program. “I wanna study law and psychology.”

Kiara will be first in her family to attend college. Those success stories come from daily sessions with her linkage coordinator and daily accountability courses with mentors like Michael. It used to happen face-to-face, but that was before the pandemic.

“Who you are will always be enough,” Kiara said. She learned that through “Letters to a Young Sister,” by Hill Harper, who also wrote “Letters to a Young Brother. He also stars in “The Good Doctor” on ABC. Tonight, through Zoom, students of promise will hear his words of encouragement.

“It makes you feel special,” Deonte said. “It makes you feel like someone up there is noticing you - makes you feel special.”