My name is Christian Jones and I am a senior at Jalen Rose Leadership Academy (JRLA) living on the westside of Detroit. I was recently selected to travel to Washington, D.C. to represent my school and present my school's founder—Mr. Jalen Rose—with the inaugural Trailblazer award during the 2nd Annual Charter School Leadership Awards reception.
This opportunity felt so very surreal because even though Mr. Rose won the award, I felt like I had won for being a part of this great opportunity. I was treated like I won—people wanted to take pictures with me, give me their contact information, and compliment me. For the first time ever, I was able to order room service and have a personal driver for my father and me.
During my trip, I had a blast and was treated with respect by our host, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Ms. Kelsey Nelson made this experience wonderful because she was always on top of everything. Any problem we had was fixed within 30 seconds—no exaggeration. She made me feel very welcome and continually checked up on me during my trip.
Going to a charter school that can provide chances to build these relationships is wonderful. I have built a family at JRLA, including close relationships with our dean of scholars, Ms. Katelyn Hoisington, college team lead, Ms. Malika Velinor, and teacher Mr. Rohman Bounds—and that's just to name a few. They help provide a plethora of opportunities available to me such as presenting awards, going on ski trips, and joining a very wide variety of programs and clubs, in addition to my school's connections with the business people in our community.
I also appreciate the support we get for getting accepted and attending college is amazing. We have tremendous help. Our school support staff follows us from high school graduation through college. This will be a huge help because I plan on going to Howard University's School of Business and studying finance and investing.
This opportunity to present the Charter School Leadership Award made me feel so honored because I was personally selected as my school's representative. I feel like I represented my school well. Mr. Rose made it even better because I have seen him so much around the school that he didn't feel like a stranger, so the bond between us was already there.
I want to say "THANK YOU" to the National Alliance for this opportunity. It is not every day that a student like me is picked to present awards to their school's founders. It also isn't every day when a child who looks like me gets to recognize another person who looks like them. Truly honored to be a part of this event.
Christian Jones is a senior at the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy. He attended the 2nd Annual Charter School Leadership Awards and Reception with school founder and former NBA star Jalen Rose, winner of the inaugural Trailblazer award from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.