By Makayla Banton • December 17, 2015
I started high school in September 2010. I knew it was going to be the longest four years of my life. The things I heard about high school were that the Juniors and Seniors would stuff the lower classmen into lockers, steal their lunch money, and taunt them all the time. I remember thinking to myself that I wanted to be noticed and popular. But of course, I became popular for the wrong reasons. I got sucked into the "popular life" like I wanted to but that life got me into some trouble.
A good friend of mine, who I will not named, decided to start a group. I saw it as a chance to become popular like I always wanted. I told him that I would follow his plan. I knew that it was going to be fun. High school became a playground, or in my case a dark trap. My sophomore year of high school, my friend got suspended for a huge fight in the cafe. It was a good fight. It was him and his brother against another kid. They were Hispanic and the guy was white. He used a racial slur, defining who he thought they were. They jumped him right there. I remember seeing his brother getting hit, I was the one who told my friend to do something. So he did by jumping into the fight. It was so good, just to be honest. Although my friends got suspended, they showed that they don't come second to nobody. They came back the next year and that's when they had an idea. They wanted to form a gang. I've seen "Boyz in da hood" and "Notorious" but I couldn't see myself as a gangster. My friend told me that I didn't have to dress like one but only act like one. I wanted to say no right away, because I was born and raised in the church. All I could hear is my grandmother's voice, "Are you crazy?! Gangster in what house?!" But then I wanted to be popular and high school was a place to make memories. So I came to my senses and decided to join my friend and the gang. It was just another deal.
The gang got me into a lot of trouble. Detention became my every day period. The other kids at school put me into the category of "the bad kids". I felt like I needed to own that title so I did. I used to get money by a job that I had and I would give it to the "Lord". I don't mean Jesus. He was the leader of the gang. They used it to get weed and sell other things. I felt like I was being used by people, I didn't know what else to do. Over the few months, my friends and I made over 1,000 dollars. We thought we were so rich. But the inevitable happened.
I remember the vice principal called me and my friend to the office. I saw the school officer standing and talking to my vice principal. He told us to step into the principal's office. I remember trembling and my palms were getting sweaty. I looked at my friend and he too had fear in his eyes. We sat down and the officer, Officer Dowd, crossed his arms and my principal was sitting at his dark polished wooden desk. He informed us that the school cameras caught us doing the wrong thing on school grounds. At this moment Officer Dowd took me and my friend outside. He told us to sit down on the on the sidewalk of the school soccer field. We waited there looking at each other in confusion. Next thing you know another officer appeared. They put us in handcuffs. The silver chains were cold and I felt like my world flipped upside down. I had a flashback of me sitting in kindergarten and my teacher putting me in time out with my face facing the corner. I couldn't play with my friends and I had to think about what I have done wrong. God knows that I would want to be in that position again rather than being put in handcuffs. I began picturing myself in jail with criminals who've killed, raped, and assaulted people. All of a sudden, I started bawling. My friend got teary eyed but tried his best to hold his emotions in. Officer Dowd looked puzzled and whispered in the other Officer's ear. They put their hands at their hips and looked back at us.
"We're not gonna arrest you guys."
I felt a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. I looked at my friend and stopped crying. I thought we were out of this madness and could go back inside and get back to class. But Office Dowd cleared his throat and said these words that I'll never forget.
"I'll make you guys a deal. We won't turn you in if you promise to do one thing," he said and as the other officer nodded his head in agreement.
My friend and I looked at each other like we'd do anything to get out of this situation. I didn't want to embarrass my family members, friends, and other people who cared about me.
"I want to see both of you in June of 2014 walk that stage on your graduation."
I couldn't tell if he was being serious. I looked at my friend and shrugged my shoulders. "Deal," I said.
It was finally my senior year. I passed MCAS. I got in Northern Essex Community College. But something that I'll never forget was graduation. Sadly, Officer Dowd couldn't make it to see me but he did wish me good luck in the future.
Those inspiring words of wisdom he told me and my friend is forever embedding in my head and heart. I wrote this speech to show other kids out there who are in the same situation that I was in that there is light at the end of the tunnel. It's up to you to change your environment. The ways that you live don't have to be your final ways of living. If you don't like the way it is, then change it. But change it into something positive. Do what you have to do, but make sure in the end that it's the right deal.
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