Rontreace and Juan met our School Outreach Coordinator, Darius Alexander, at Saghalie Middle School five years ago. At Saghalie, both students struggled academically and had behavior issues. They would both often skip class or be kicked out due to bad behavior. Darius came to realize that both boys lacked a stable relationship with their fathers and needed a positive male role model in their lives. Darius engaged both Juan and Rontreace with one-on-one case management and  mentoring to help the boys figure out who they were and where they wanted to go.

Rontreace, Juan and Darius posing for a picture in front of the blue Decatur High School sign.

In response to the needs of these two boys, and several others at Saghalie, Darius formed the “Legacy Group” at Saghalie. As participants in the program the boys were engaged in conversations about setting goals, making plans to achieve them, and overcoming obstacles. The most significant benefit to being in the program were the field trips to different colleges and universities. These experiences were aimed at showing the young men in the group life outside of Federal Way and their communities. They were introduced to new opportunities in hopes they could see the potential each of them had to succeed.

In 2018, Darius moved from Saghalie Middle School to Decatur High School, where the two boys were now Juniors. They identified early in the year what they wanted to do with their lives. Rontreace was involved in an internship with Boeing and Juan decided to pursue a career in the military to position him to help his family as soon as possible. Darius was there to help assist them in achieving their goals whenever they needed guidance, but with a solid foundation laid in middle school, these boys had the skills and confidence they needed to make their dreams a reality.

While they come from different backgrounds, Juan and Rontreace have very similar stories. Their most impressive commonality is their ability to overcome adversity, set their sights on their goals and work towards achieving them. They did the research to figure out how they could graduate early and set their minds to completing their high school requirements. They put in extra hours, asked for help when needed, and had conversations with Darius to stay focused throughout the year. While it wasn’t easy, they were both able to complete all of their requirements and graduate early. After all of their struggles, they both did so achieving over a 3.5 GPA! These boys have come a long way from their days in middle school, and are well on their way to achieving their dreams!