Betty Shabazz Academy eighth grader, Dara Bolden, recently found out that she received a perfect score on her Chicago Public Schools Selective Enrollment Test. As a result, Bolden will be attending Whitney M. Young Magnet School, her first choice, for high school in the fall.
“Dara was tough actually, she’s a bit scary for a teacher because she is incredibly bright and she devours books,” said Shariba Rivers, instructional coach of the English language arts and social studies departments at Betty Shabazz Academy.
After noticing that Bolden was breezing through most of her coursework, her teachers and administrators elected to place her in an accelerated reading group led by Rivers.
“As a teacher, coming across a child like Dara, one of the things you worry about is whether or not there is anything else that you can give her while not leaving everyone else behind and she was a challenge that way,” said Rivers. “She was just the challenge that I think I needed and I was the challenge that I think she needed.”
While Bolden’s teachers were not surprised that she got a perfect score, it was still an achievement most thought was impossible before her scores came back.
“It was part surprise and part elation, actually mostly elation. My family was there to celebrate with me. Looking at it now, it felt almost unreal but it was just a really really happy moment,” said Bolden.
Originally Bolden’s mother, Dara Young, homeschooled her daughter and said she was an early reader and has always devoured books. Betty Shabazz Academy provided the nurturing educational environment that Young wanted for her daughter once she decided to transition away from homeschooling.
Betty Shabazz Academy, located on 7823 S Ellis Ave, is an African-centered charter school serving K-8 students and is part of the Betty Shabazz International Charter School (BSICS) network. Since its inception, BSICS has worked to grow high achieving students, maintain a strong sense of cultural identity and a commitment to make positive contributions to the community and the world.
“My daughter, being from a home-schooled environment and being shy, she has really grown at Betty Shabazz. She has allowed her creative energies to flow there unlike at a place where she might be limited. When she got through all her
work, she was put in a specialized curriculum and I can’t say enough about the school,” said Young.
As Bolden transitions into high school at Whitney M. Young Magnet School, she plans to take with her the cultural pride and confidence that she gained from Betty Shabazz Academy.
“The greatest thing that I’ll take with me to Whitney Young is probably the overwhelming celebration of my culture,” said Bolden. “Me, as a young black girl, I don’t often see my story told much less celebrated. The minute I walk into [Betty
Shabazz Academy] I feel this unity and collective gathering of my people and that’s probably the greatest thing I’ll take with me to high school.”