Arise Senior Mikal Smith – On Why Arise Matters: Speech before the Philadelphia School Reform Commission

My name is Mikal Smith, I am 17 years old and I reside in a SIL which stands for Supervised Independent Living.  I am also a senior at Arise Academy.  3 minutes is not enough time to discuss my thoughts about Arise, but here we go.

Arise is not a school, it is a family of people who generally care about one another. At Arise, the staff is aware of the struggles each individual student goes thru, this starts at the top with …Mr. Gabe the CEO.  This is different than my past experiences with school.  At Arise students are comfortable being who they are and being in the situations they are in.

In the past, I felt forgotten about by workers and teachers.  I was never understood.  I felt alone and it was as if people were only there for me between certain hours.  Nobody ever went above and beyond, this means cared. At Arise teachers do more than just teach academics, they are always available to talk.  At Arise, I have a family that provides structure and supports which has allowed me to grow and overcome obstacles.

My biggest obstacle, sometimes being me. I was never a team player and relied only on myself,  I had to do this because I was never able to rely on people who were supposed to be supporting me, my workers, teachers, father ect. (WTF)

In my opinion, other students should have the same opportunities that I have been presented with at Arise:  flexibility,  a job,  housing support,  clothes,  food, money and the power finding my voice.  This can’t happen without an Arise.  While we are not the only school that deals with kids in difficult situations, in my opinion and experience with the system,  Arise always seems to do what’s best and has my back. Thank you for listening to me.


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