By Daneyah Penisini
My community is Summit Preparatory Charter High school, and it’s something I could not live without as it made me who I am. Summit Prep is very vibrant even though it’s small; however, as they say, great things come in small packages.
Diversity among ethnic students and Expeditions courses. A great feeling of connection to those around you through a bond. A sense of unity as they have worked together to finish anything and most importantly, being able to be a part of a family. That is what community means to me.
My mentor group is a part of my community, and it’s what brought me here to Summit Prep. When first arriving, I had initially thought a mentor group was sort of like a counseling group, but instead I was introduced to what felt like a small family.
“I think the mentor group idea is really cool,” Michelle Moore, a freshman at Summit Prep, said. “We get to have our own little family because we’re with them for four years of our life, which gives us a lot of time to get to know each other. That’s like, wow.”
Moore describes her mentor group as a “second family” from how some of the students have similar tastes to how they choose certain topics to discuss. She stated she felt as though she had “magically found” people like her. Lucky right?
Well, not exactly.
It wasn’t magic or luck that helped her find “her people” as some students here believe when they find someone in their mentor group similar like them. Apparently, Summit Prep looks through a student’s past record and places them in groups that best fit them. They analyze each student and mentor and group them based on how the mentor can help the students progress and improve in day-to-day life until graduation.
That might seem like a long time, but time flies by fast when you’re with people similar to you.
“It’s something that is very different from other high schools,’’ notes Michael Green, a mentor and educator at Summit Prep.
“They care more so about how the student is doing as a person outside the academics and I think that’s seeing through our mentor groups roles. Just making sure that each student feels like they are actually secure here and safe here and that they can learn.”
Green continued, sharing that his own high school had required the students to seek out the help. He stated it was “nerve-racking” when talking about personal things whereas Summit Prep “invites” you to talk with your mentor group, which makes it easier and more efficient.
I couldn’t help but feel grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful community. The first time the entire group was brought together, there wasn’t much to say to anyone. We were all new and shy, but it quickly changed after our mentor group had worked together to take home the victory of the Summit Prep Mentor Olympics during Summit Prep’s annual camping trip.
Each mentor group participates in the Olympics where spirit and determination all help a group win the prize, which is known as the “Trophy Torch.” In spite of the rumors of seniors winning each year, that didn’t stop our group from taking home the victory.
Another surprising turn of events is that I had the pleasure of experiencing the relationship athletes had with one another. When joining the basketball team, I felt distant from everyone else until we began to have conversations and created a chemistry that not only allowed us to bond on the court, but off of the court as well.
For me, I was nervous because I didn’t know many of the girls at the time and I expected this to be a very strict team. However, I was once again proven wrong when I realized the coach, Ian Jordan, was a very humorous leader who had no problem with laughing and correcting the girls in practice or in the games.
Kayla Sierra, a Summit Prep junior, said, “I got to connect more with my teammates since we had some things in common. I think it’s because they’re people like me ’cause they’re athletic and they like to talk about things I like to talk about, so it kinda gave me a leg up to make friends.”
I agree with her on how sports helped me make friends with my fellow teammates. I made friends with upperclassmen and with my fellow freshmen on the team, which gave me an opportunity to get to know them in school or at practice. Sure, the difficulty of the sport had a toll on us at practice, in games or at school, but we would manage through together.
Sports helped me not only make a connection with people at my school, but also with my education. Since I loved being there with my teammates as well as practicing with them, it gave me another reason to try hard in school. I remember once when many of our teammates faced prohibition from playing in a game against our rival from another school due to having incomplete assignments. But, they muscled through it and managed to complete it just in time for game day, even though I myself could not play due to a knee injury. What terrible timing. But our Summit Prep girls won with flying colors that game.
All in all, Summit Prep is my definition of a community. Everything within arm’s reach for me and fellow students who either I can help or who can help me. Diversity among its students, unity throughout the entire school and bonds with everyone. I wouldn’t trade this for the world.