The end of the school year isn’t working out as expected for graduating senior Aliyah. But she’s determined to start her studies in the fall to become a police officer.
Just like high school seniors all over the country, she’s missing all of the usual end-of-school milestones because of the lockdown from the COVID-19 pandemic. “I miss my friends and the chance to make memories,” said Aliyah, a senior at Prosser Career Academy. “I don’t get to celebrate my success.”
Aliyah has continued distance learning since March. “It’s a little challenging,” she admitted. “You’re OK as long as you do the online work. We’ve just been trying to keep our grades up.”
Aliyah has online assignments from two sources: Prosser and the Chicago Police & Firefighter Training Academy, a program that provides training for students interested in careers in public safety, law enforcement, criminal justice, and fire science. Besides her high school courses, she has been taking classes from CPFTA at Wilbur Wright College twice a week. While Aliyah was accepted at six colleges, she will study criminal justice and criminology in a two-year program at Harold Washington College, one of the city colleges in Chicago. She also balanced her high school classes with taking Junior ROTC for four years at Prosser.
With her classes at Wilbur Wright College, “I already have a taste of what college is like,” Aliyah said. She had a summer internship with the Chicago Police Department, where she did a lot of hands-on work and talked to different police officers. She’s also taken a class in cyber security.
This is the seventh year that Aliyah has worked with tutor Andrew Reed, and she has appreciated his help at tutoring, especially in math. “He’s always been great about helping me with homework,” she said.
Andrew, a computer programmer, agreed that math has been a main focus. “The past few years, more than half the time, we’ve worked on math,” he said. “Now she’s been getting A’s and B’s in math classes.”
Andrew said Aliyah always has been a “willing and dedicated student. It’s been a joy to see her grow up and grow more confident.
“She always comes to tutoring ready to work,” he added. “I would ask her, ‘Do you want to play a game?’ She always said, ‘No.’ I never had to encourage her.”
As Aliyah thought about her future, the two explored various ideas that touched on law, including reading about Supreme Court cases. “All her options were some sort of public service,” Andrew said.
Since Cluster Tutoring was canceled along with school, Andrew and Aliyah have stayed in touch through email. “She’s got a placement exam coming up for school, so we’ve been on a few calls to refresh some things,” Andrew said.
Aliyah has enjoyed her time at tutoring, both during the school year and in the Summer Reading Program, where Executive Director Kara Kalnitz chose her as one of the student assistants. “I like working with Andrew and Kara, too,” she said.
Besides her graduation from Prosser, Aliyah will take part in a separate virtual graduation from the police training academy on June 3. There will be no regular graduation ceremony, but “we’re trying to do something to celebrate with the family,” Aliyah said.
Andrew is also thinking about how to celebrate Aliyah’s graduation — from a distance, of course.