A Tour Of West Oakland
Teenager from West Oakland shows us how hard it can be just getting to school
OAKLAND (CBS 5) ― Lawrence (Lonnie) Jones is the kid in the back of the room with lots of questions. He's learned how to make that work for him at E.X.C.E.L. High School, in West Oakland, located on the McClymond's High building. It's a college prep school that has helped Lonnie get into St. Mary's College in Orinda.
"He is the student pushing the depth of a dialogue about events and people in history," said his teacher, Tricia Speid.
His mother made it clear he was going to college, he said.
"She always told us that academics are the only way," he said. "I love her for that."
His teacher, Nancy Lai can see his mother's influence: "She absolutely sets the tone because she values education so highly and becasue she is, in the words of students, is a mom who doesn't take any mess."
His principal also told us, if there were more moms like her, West Oakland could turn around.
Lonnie's older brother is a Student Rising Above too, and helped keep him on track. They had a friendly competition growing up to see how could get the better grades.
His mom worked hard to raise five children. Having her youngest, she developed congestive heart failure. That was frightening for Lonnie. He took on a lot of responsibility at home to help her out with his younger sister and brother.
"I'd do anything for them, with no regrets at all," he said.
Lonnie wants to go into politics to make positive changes in West Oakland, where he went to school.
"I don't think there's a lot of politicians that come out of West Oakland," he notes. "I don't think there's a lot of politicians who may have experienced what we experience down here... I think there are a lot of laws that are biased so I want to provide a different opinion and I want to set an example for the kids in the West Oakland community that anything is possible."
School will be the way to make that happen.
"I want an education," Lonnie said. "I will go to any length to make it happen."
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