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Genesis of a Dream : As 6th-graders, they were offered college money if they stayed in school. Where are they now? : ‘It’s Not All About Girls. It’s About Education Right Now’

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Name: Javon Wade

Age: 16

School: Manual Arts High School

Goal: College. Work in electronics.

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Last March, Javon was standing in the front yard of his girlfriend’s house when he noticed a car moving down the street. Suddenly, the men in the car began shooting at some men in a park across the street.

The men in the park returned fire, and as Javon and his girlfriend ran to her back yard, a bullet pierced his back, neck and chin.

“I was running and I thought I was hit in the arm because I didn’t feel anything else,” Javon says. “I guess my shoulder was numb.”

His injuries forced him to miss five weeks of school. His grades fell to Cs, Ds and Fs, he says.

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This year, Javon vows to raise his grades. He has set his sights on A’s and Bs and recently scolded a friend who suggested that he transfer to Crenshaw High School because there were more girls there.

“I tell him it’s not all about girls,” Javon says. “It’s all about education right now. Finish high school and go to college and do your work and then you’ll have time for girls. . . . I mess with girls, but when I’m in class I go straight to work. . . . How are you going to take care of a baby and be in school?”

Javon’s study habits may not always have been the best. But Manual Arts counselor Odessia Love hopes she is noticing some changes.

“He seems like he realizes what he did not do in 10th grade,” Love says. “That he has to study harder, do tutoring and do his homework every night. They get a little wiser as they get a little older, and I think he’s a little wiser this semester than he was last.”

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Javon says he wants to go to college--UCLA is his first choice--and then study electronics because of an interest that began as a boy when he used to fix things with his father.

The Dream project coordinators have helped Javon’s performance, Love says.

“He feels good in that program. It seems to give him something extra that he has (his project coordinator) to talk to. They have different activities they go to and that’s good.”

Javon lives with his mother and his grandmother, a food service worker, in South-Central Los Angeles. He says his father lives nearby.

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Javon says he has one habit that irritates people: “I talk on the phone. If I was home now I’d be on the phone on and off until 10 p.m. On vacation sometimes I talk until 5 a.m. to my friend or my girlfriend.”

Those conversations will lead to good things, Javon says.

“I feel when I finish everything I have to do, I’m really going to be somebody. I have my parents plus my project coordinator to look up to.”


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