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Voices: Real life grit

South High School student Chaunsae Dyson writes about how developing grit helped him transition to a new school with more challenging academic standards.

Have you ever gotten into a tough situation and you weren’t sure how to get out? Have you ever been excited to start something new but once you started it you found it difficult to finish? Has it ever been mandatory for you to sit through something but you didn’t have the patience to sit through it?

To get through situations like these you need to have a lot of what is called “grit.”

The term “grit” is formally defined as “a passion to achieve a long term goal along with a powerful motivation to achieve the goal.” Grit takes working strenuously toward challenges and maintaining effort and interest in the face of failure, adversity, and setbacks. Research has demonstrated that grit may be a better predictor of future success than IQ or raw talent.

This has been proven true again and again in my life! For my junior year, I started going to Denver South High School, a school known for its challenging academics and wide-ranging diversity. This school, in all reality, was a completely different world than my previous school. The standards, grading scale, and not to mention the all-around school attendance, were higher.

At the beginning, I found that a lot of my grades were failing and not where I wanted them to be. My classes were rigorous and challenging and it was very hard to keep up; but I used my grit and persisted. Another challenge I faced with my classes was maintaining my attention. I took more tutoring sessions than I’ve ever had to go through in my life. I even had to ask other students for help as well. Getting up every morning and leaving on a bus at 5:22 a.m. was another incentive for me to do well. If I was going to travel so far to go to school, I was going to make it worthwhile.

During my first semester at South I was going through a great deal of family drama, but with college in mind, I continued to focus on my future. To add to that, I also had to focus on school while moving several times. Grit was essential to me as a student and to make it through my junior year. Slowly by slowly I am getting used to the rigor of all my classes.

Getting a lot of work done is teaching me the skill of time management. My attendance in school has remarkably improved and my grades are a lot better than when I first started the semester. I want to go to college! Not only that, but I also want the skills it takes to stay in college. Showing grit through my school work and keeping my head on my future is what is going to help me accomplish my dreams.

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.

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