Photo: Bethel’s Director of Admissions David Shinn congratulates Kobe on a job well done.
It was just a blue ribbon, the first-place award at the Bethel Christian Academy Science Fair. But for the boy who won it, it represents so much more.
That ribbon is the story of a life turned around. The first victory in a long history of failure. It is the triumphant smile of a teen who was on a path to nowhere good, who is now on a path to college and a career.
A Life Going Nowhere
Before Kobe came to Bethel, his grades were D’s and F’s and he managed to get suspended from school on a weekly basis. He had no hopes, no dreams, no future.
“I was in trouble a lot and I thought ‘It’s okay, I’ll get away with it,’” Kobe said with a sheepish smile that quickly turned serious. “But I didn’t.”
Instead, his mom sent him to the Back on Track program at Bethel, where he has House Parents, teachers, a counselor, a social worker, a school principal and staff who are all on the same cheerleading squad: Team Kobe.
“At my other school, the teachers always put us on computers,” Kobe said. “But here they help me. Mr. B would always encourage me when I got down.”
Help from a Football Hero
Kobe also received special inspiration from one of the UTC Mocs Football players, someone closer to his age, who had struggled as a young teen but found a winning path.
“Terrell, one of the players, told me I have to excel in life, that I need to have a dream and to chase it,” Kobe recalled. So he did. First, improving his grades to all A’s and B’s. Then, tackling the science fair with a winning project that established the most effective level of antacids, like Tums, complete with litmus strips to prove out his hypothesis. “Always take two Tums,” he advises. “The experiment proves that helps the most.”
Focused on the Future
Next on his list: “I want to attend college and become an outdoor instructor,” Kobe said proudly. “I’ve already been looking into colleges.”
His message to you? “Thanks for making this place possible,” he says thankfully. It was the start of something big.
Be a part of something bigger. Be a Hero for Hope for a teen in crisis.