Written by Jesse Muhammad
This year I have had some awesome invitations to speak and I must say all of them have been learning experiences. Plus I have met a lot of great people along the way, especially during the Grassroots Media Tour.
I got a speaking invitation this month that I truly took as a great honor. I was invited to address over 350 students from the 2009 Senior Class of North Forest High School on December 9th. Why was it so special? Half of the school is my former high school, Forest Brook, located in Northeast Houston.
North Forest ISD has been in financial turmoil for years now and many of the schools in the district took a pounding from Hurricane Allison in '01, including Forest Brook. The district has been threaten many times by the state with being shut down. Well, this year Ike tore through Forest Brook so the students were merged with long-time rival Smiley High. The merger gave birth to the name North Forest High. The two mascots of a jaguar and a eagle have become a bulldog.
One of my fellow classmates from the Class of '97, LaQuita Harkless-Williams, arranged for me to speak to the senior class about how to overcome mediocrity, prepare for college and how to get their S.W.A.G. on. Many of them were surprised (guess it was the suit) that I grew up in the same projects they reside in and that I grew up with some of the same experiences as them. I have been wanting to help my former school any way that I can so this was a start.
Many of them gave touching testimonies on how my one hour talk gave them hope. I will be posting their videos soon. I thank the School Principal Mr. Russell and the Senior Class Principal Ms. Calhoun for their hospitality. I thank the students for their attention and the wonderful gifts.
And in case you are wondering what S.W.A.G.(c) stands for...Stop Wasting Abilities and Gifts. More on that coming soon too. Ideas are bulletproof.
(All photos by Rashid Muhammad)