What will it take to graduate high school?

Isaiah Riggins, 17, adjusted his oversized purple snapback and pulled up his shorts that go beyond his knees as he told me about the difficulties he faces when trying to motivate himself to graduate Commerce High school in Springfield.

Isaiah has six siblings and they all live with their father in Indian Orchard, Springfield.

Riggins feels as though his teachers give up most of the time and lack the desire to continue encouraging the students to succeed.

“They’ll teach while everyone else is talking in the classroom and that makes it hard for me to concentrate, but its not like they try to stop the chaos,” he said.

Riggins describes the environment in the classroom as ‘insanely wild’ and not conducive to learning. A fight breaks out in the hallway daily, which distracts the students from their academics. Electronic devices are always out recording every fight that transpires. As a result, the videos go viral side-tracking students from other grades as well.

Many students skip classes daily and at times there would only be a total of two students in the classroom. Because there is a lack of students attending classes, teachers then feel demotivated to bother teaching.

Riggins states that at times he would ask his parents for help on his math homework, but when they would ask for his notes, he would claim that there were never any notes given in class. Riggins explains that because of that lack of learning materials given in class, he never ends up doing the homework or learning the material—eventually failing the entire course.

Riggins says, “I feel like they throw you all these hard obstacles your way then wonder why the dropout rate is so damn high.”

MassLive recently reported that schools in Springfield have a dropout rate of 51 percent, which is more than half the school population.

In addition to the teacher’s shortcomings, Riggins also feels that the immense amount of external pressure is what makes it harder for him to remain motivated.

The pressure from his dad is what drives him most of the time but also keeps him tense. Riggins strives to make his dad happy and at times that stresses him out.

There is also pressure from his teachers, his peers too especially.

As a hobby, Riggins enjoys break dancing with one of his classmates and making videos then posting them on YouTube, hoping to someday have a following.

Because of that, Riggin’s peers are constantly making fun of him and as much as Riggins tries to brush the taunting off, it still is a nuisance and sometimes an encumbrance.

“They’re always like you dance so retardedly or whatever and I just ignore it and come back at them. I don’t really let it bother me,” he said.

Despite all these hindrances that Riggins face, he is still determined to graduate high school no matter what. He has a year left and is willing to do what it takes to find motivation in the midst of the type of environment he is in.

“I don’t care how I make my dad happy, but I just want to make him happy and get out of here,” said Riggins.


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