Rachel Cunningham, Saquita Clark, and Demetrius Rouse each came to McGivney School under different circumstances. Saquita was court-referred and hopes to become a veterinarian. Demetrius was court-ordered, is currently student council president and wants to be an actor. His heart is set on NYU. Rachel chose McGivney when offered early release from her previous institution on good behavior. She hopes to become a writer but plans to attend law school. Because of Principal Looney and his competent, qualified, and engaging staff, students who end up at McGivney are granted opportunities that may be otherwise unattainable. They are all juniors who have attended Detroit public schools.
“It’s more help,” says Demetrius on McGivney. “There’s more individual assistance.”
On her experience at DPS, “I think that they’re just there for a check. I know its struggling time in our city, so maybe they just come in there and just get a check and they’re with us for the seven hours a day,” says Rachel. “They don’t challenge you.”
“The work can be so simple,” says Saquita, “and they’d be like, grade school. And you look at like, if me graduate from high school, what am I gonna do on a college level, and I isn’t learned nothing in high school?” She elaborates, “at DPS you can’t say one cuss word or it’s a suspension for two or three days. They really don’t care if you’re there or not. And they tell the government like, no child left behind, but some kids are dropping out and I feel like they don’t care.”
“If we suspended for cussing we wouldn’t have anyone at school,” says Mr. Looney. “We address it, but at the same time we understand why maybe these emotions are coming out.”
Mr. Looney and I step out for a McChicken. He points out a crackhouse that is habitually raided. Most of the surrounding homes are in stages of disrepair. “This is shit you see in like, Beirut. It shouldn’t be in Michigan.” We pass a collapsed garage, swerving to avoid a stumbling drunk as a pack of wild dogs barks at a fenced-in mutt. “That’s exactly what this is—decay. It doesn’t look like we’re a fucking powerful nation, driving around here.”
dialogue with Mr. Biolchino: http://songsfromthemoon.com/2010/12/28/mr-biolchino/
photos of McGivney: http://songsfromthemoon.com/2010/12/21/mcgivney-school/