04/30/06 — Students say hearing comments can be tough

View Archive

Students say hearing comments can be tough

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 30, 2006 2:02 AM

Goldsboro High School junior Marcus Uzzell said his parents and grandfather also went to his school. So, when he hears people making negative comments about his family's alma mater, it's personal.

"I want to say, 'Y'all, where we at?' A lot of good things happen here, but I don't think it's showcased like they should be,'" Uzzell said. "I wish I could change the perception, definitely, but it takes more than one person."

Some of his classmates agree. Their high school being the constant topic of public forums has taken a toll. Listening to the news reports hasn't been easy.

"Some people were going, 'OK, good. They're going to shut you down,'" Uzzell said. "I think if everyone spoke positively about Goldsboro instead of talking bad about it, maybe if people started saying good things about it, people would start believing it."

Several students said when people find out they attend Goldsboro High School, unsolicited comments and opinions follow.

Senior LaDonna King said the tone of a conversation virtually changes when people find out she's a student at the high school.

"'Oh,' they say, like anybody can be at Goldsboro High," she said.

"If you do something positive or good, they'll act almost shocked or puzzled, 'Oh, you're from Goldsboro?'" Uzzell said.

"I get that a lot," Ms. King said. "Some ask, 'So, do they really shoot people out there? If I come to a basketball game, will I get shot?'"

Uzzell said, "I can count on my hand how many fights we have had at this school this year. It's not bad. Every school has fights. They just blow it out of proportion."

Most think it's worse at Goldsboro High than it really is, said Hameka Canady, senior class president.

"People think that we fight every day or people bring guns to school. It's just a regular high school," she said.

"Nothing has happened at Goldsboro that hasn't happened at any other school," Ms. King added. "But because of the location and the skin color, it's bad."

Calling Goldsboro the only high school "around here that's got two or three white people," senior Tyrell Rawls said diversity is important.

"It makes you wonder, for real, because Goldsboro (High) used to be all white. Now it's the opposite," Uzzell said.

"It doesn't bother me that we don't get diversity," Ms. King said. "It bothers me why we don't get diversity. I just want to know why. I feel like if they would come, they would feel the atmosphere of pride and be thankful that they could graduate from somewhere they could be proud of."

Students at the school still have a lot of Cougar pride, Ms. Canady said. They are also proud of such things as the school's history in athletics and academics.

"Famous people were here before that a lot of people don't know about, like Andy Griffith who came here and started a music program, NFL athletes who passed through here. That's what I like about Goldsboro; it's been on top for so long," Uzzell said. "I wish it was like that now. I don't know where we got these perceptions from, but it's frustrating."

One factor is the school's location, he said. The area surrounding the school is more urban than other schools in the county.

"You go to Southern Wayne, Eastern Wayne, there's nothing but a couple of houses, some roads. We're right in the middle of everything that goes on in Goldsboro," he said. "As soon as you step out of the school, there's a store, the park, the library."

Recent news reports of the possible closure of their high school have done little to help, the students say.

"People feel like not only are we dumb, but we don't have teachers to teach us," Ms. King said.

"We have got teachers; we have real good teachers," Uzzell added.

"Our test scores are low because we make them low. The teachers teach us, but it's up to us to learn," Ms. King said.

"I think the students are easily influenced and don't take the time to study. I think it's just laziness," Rawls said. "I believe everybody has a chance. They're just not pushing themselves to do it."

"The ones that are taking the opportunities will get them," Uzzell said.

With public perception that students there are not as smart as their peers at other high schools, some are bound to prove the critics right, he said.

"We have after-school programs, Saturday Academy" and other opportunities to learn, Ms. Canady said.

"Half of our students have young parents, so they don't necessarily push them," Ms. King said. "I think you need a good base."

Home life is a contributing part of the equation, most of it in fact, Rawls said.

"If you have a bad day at home, you're not going to feel as good. I think the home life is like the base for how you'll do in school," he said.

"I believe you can tell how people are brought up by the way they behave," said senior Rashad Hinnant, who is Student Government president.

"I know my parents don't have fabulous jobs, but they work hard. I know I don't want to struggle when I grow up. They push me to succeed for when I do grow up. I really believe it starts when you are at home."

Each of the students interviewed said they have aspirations of going to college and feel the school and its teachers have adequately prepared them to go.

Uzzell plans to attend the University of North Carolina on a football scholarship. Ms. Canady and Ms. King have been accepted at UNC, where they will study nursing; Rawls said he is applying to attend N.C. A&T State University; and Hinnant will major in business administration at Fayetteville State University.

They said there is a lot they want the community to know about Goldsboro High School.

"It's not bad," Ms. King said.

"We have smart students. The media just don't realize it," Rawls said.

"Come walk the halls, sit in the classrooms, come see. Experience firsthand everything we're talking about," Ms. King said.

"We're not bad people. We have a lot of good things around us but people don't realize it. They just make little things big," Rawls said. "Maybe because we had a good image back then. They make it so big (when anything bad happens)."

As to some suggestions on how to better support the school, Ms. King said funding is always beneficial, but having more sponsors would also be a morale booster.

"On our little board of business partners, we have about four. Eastern Wayne has a big board of sponsors and partners that support them," she said. "No one sponsors us."

"Our students need motivation," Ms. Canady said. "If the people would stop talking so much and start volunteering, maybe come out here and tell our students that they can achieve whatever, less negativity."

"There's a lot of things," Uzzell said. "I think more things need to be put up to remind people of the good stuff, of what used to be."

He said when he has visitedcolleges and spoken with coaches, such as at UNC, he has seen memorabilia reminding visitors of the legacy.

"They have all this stuff about Dean Smith; it's right in your face so you can remember it," he said. "I think it would help (Goldsboro), definitely."