I sat quietly in my chair and looked around the small room that The Crossing Educational Center uses for Family Time. A diverse group of students worked to complete the given assignment. It wasn’t the typical math problem, essay question, or science experiment. It was something completely different. Their task was to write their biggest fear, their deepest secret, and the most dangerous situation that they had ever been in on a small piece of paper. Once completed, they were asked to place the papers anonymously into a box that circulated the room. For the next few minutes, the items written were read aloud to the entire group. It was during that time that I realized that the group of students, though diverse in age, ethnicity, and race, had much more in common than I would had ever thought.
“My Dad held a gun in my face while high on drugs.” “I saw my friend get shot in the head.” I watched someone get shot in front of my house.” These are just a few of the dangerous situations that I heard. Can you imagine? I mean these are teenage kids. They are too young to have experienced so much trauma and violence already in their lives. I have lived for more 37 years and haven’t experienced a fraction of the negative, life-altering events that this group of young people have experienced. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that depression and thoughts of suicide were a common thread when talking about their deepest secrets. They fear death, never beating depression, disappointing their parents, and failure.
Oh, did I mention that this group of students is a group of struggling students? Huh, I wonder why. If you witnessed the shooting of your friend, have considered and attempted suicide, would you be focused on school? Could you be a good student? The answer is no. Poor grades and school struggles are the result of traumatic life events. These students cannot be written off and forgotten. They must be nurtured, encouraged, and developed. That is exactly what the The Crossing Educational Center is doing.
The Crossing is a nonprofit organization that empowers struggling students to become contributing members of their communities through academics, job-training and faith-based mentoring. They are an Indiana Department of Education accredited organization that is transforming lives through education by focusing on the heart and mind. The high school serves students in grades 9-12 at campuses all over Northern Indiana. The curriculum develops the mind, builds character, and produces leaders.
In addition to participating during Family Time, a time that is focused on character building and bringing the students to The Cross in faith, I had the opportunity to help some students with their math homework. Specifically, algebra and graphing polynomials. Something I haven’t done in a long time. After removing the cobwebs from the brain, I was able to offer some help. In the end, it was great to work with the students. It was great to witness Family Time. It was awesome to learn about and volunteer with The Crossing.
The Crossing Educational Center needs your help to continue impacting the lives of children all over our state. You can be a part of this movement to help struggling students. Become a life or spiritual mentor, assist in a classroom, help prepare meals, or teach a class. There are so many ways for you to get involved to make a difference in the life of these children. Children who are facing challenges that many of us have never faced. Children who have seen and experienced death up close. Children who, in some instances, have lost hope. You could be the difference. Today could be the day. You know what is awesome, it is completely up to you!