During the winter of my senior year in higher school, Michelle Obama was launching a “Let’s Move” campaign to help motivate children to lead a healthier lifestyle. There is a rampant epidemic where more and more American children are becoming overweight or obese, and she took it upon herself as the First Lady to do something about it. To launch her campaign, Michelle Obama decided to begin in Newark, New Jersey and a select group of athletes were invited to attend. As an athlete, and one of the student representative for the school district, I was granted the privilege to meet her in person. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to talk to her, give her anything, or touch her unless she initiated it. As she walked closer to me, I noticed how tall and beautiful she was. I kept thinking, “I am in the presence of success and power”, and it felt wonderful. For the split second we were able to meet with her, even though we waited for hours in a classroom, it was an experience of a lifetime. I can personally thank Mr. Roger Leon for the opportunity.

One a more intense note, Mark Zuckerberg, the primary founder of a multi-million company, Facebook, went on Oprah’s show and promised to give Newark $100,000,000. During his announcement, Mayor Cory Booker and Governor Chris Christie was present. You would think that with such a large amount of money, the academic challenges the district was facing would have been resolved and put in the past. Our problems had just begun; the money offer was the final catalyst of a simmering fire that is still causing grief over a year later. As the student representative attending meetings, I was well aware of the conditions, and backstabbing that was going on at the time. What was not mentioned on air about the generous offer Mr. Zuckerberg made was that the mayor of the city of Newark would have to raise half that amount of money to get the rest of it. When I last checked, he was about halfway there. Because many people in the public school system were initially unaware of this, they raised hell about getting the money they had been promised. This let the public to burst out in rages, and almost riots on a couple occasions, about how the board of representatives was a bunch of hypocrites who cared on for their personal interest.

Just when things could not get worse, Chris Christie “Crispy Cream Christie” as we called him, decided to implement an intense budget cut where overpopulated schools that needed repair would have to consolidate buildings. These would pilot programs for certain students, and charter schools were now being housed Newark Public Schools. Nothing seemed to be going right. Nothing made sense. In terms of how my school was affected, we were to give up a section of our brand-new building for a group of LGBT students. Considering the fact that my school had a great track record for graduation rates, SAT scores, state exams, and attendance, we believed this new program would negatively impact the school’s reputation. These students were thought to be troubled by society, and the mixture of students would not provide good fruit.

Prior to the board’s decision to end the consolidation at Science, during my Junior year, they many other consolidations and relocations enraged everyone from faculty and staff to students. It got to the point where there was a statewide walkout for high school students.

To all my close friends! Good Bye

Why now, why ever are you leaving?

You might see us laughing around, 

But inside we are weeping.

The day you came, to the day you leave,

You are and were always unpredictable.

And with your help, by God’s grace I will achieve.

I know I never showed you my best side, 

I never showed you how much I cared inside

And now you’re leaving, leaving our lives.

Not to make this seem all bad, 

Good luck in the future, thanks for the fun we had.

Although I’m smiling, it’s really sad. 

Life is about moving on. Like the shinning sun,

The way you enlightened me when we first begun.

Even as I smile, from my tears, I will not run from.

I wave goodbye.

Hiding me fears and tears, careful not to cry.

From me to you, I say see you later and never a good bye.

Sulait Olusanya – Age 13

Student walkout of 2010 in protest of budget cuts.

High school was a very interesting time, as it is for everyone. I was involved in so much that I wasn’t the best at anything. I sang in the choir. I threw in track. I played basketball. I debated. I was Student Rep for the district senior year. I did random leadership programs and joined the National Honor Society. Looking back, I have always functioned best doing a little of everything. Specializing in 1 thing is not my thing.

I have to address how this comes off homophobic. It was more so that Newark was infamous for rounding up kids that were troublemakers and shoving them in one corner. The students that the district was proposing to attend Science Park High School, which is one of the best Magnet High Schools in New Jersey, were poorly behaved students. Irrespective of their sexual orientation, the students at my high school were too proud of the name to muddy it for the district.

My experience with Michelle Obama was so quick, I almost forgot it. It is important to brag about yourself when you accomplish things so you don’t forget the details. You can look back at these accomplishments, no matter how insignificant it felt or obnoxious you felt for voicing it out loud. In hindsight, I was a total bad ass. I initially left this story out of my book. I did not want to sound like I was bragging, and my dad encouraged me to include it. I am grateful to him for that.

After reading Becoming by Michelle Obama, it put some context to things. She mentioned they ate McDonalds almost every day while they campaigned. I don’t blame her for rushing to start the Let’s Move campaign. After a short vacation with fast food, restaurant meals, and leftovers, you miss a little green on your plate.

Oh the politics of it all. Deep DEEP sigh. We should have all known back then that men like Cory Booker and Chris Christie would never let children who actually need that money to come close to smelling it. These men have now since attempted their shot at the Presidential seat and failed miserably. We all know about Facebook’s fraudulent culture, and how these men continue to line their pockets.

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