A wide variety of students with many different backgrounds attend Chamblee Charter High School. Chamblee’s magnet program allows these diverse students to come from all over the county.
When students live in all corners of Dekalb county, they can stumble upon different problems academically and socially than those that live near the school.
“Living far away definitely restricts how many activities I do, and how long I am able to attend them for,” said junior Samantha Huggins.
Students that live far away are not always awarded the luxury of having a parent to drive them to and from school and must take the bus.
“I wake up around 5:20,” said Huggins. “It takes me two bus rides to get to school. I have to be to the first bus by 6:30, and I switch buses at seven. At 7:15, my second bus takes us to school. Our arrival depends heavily on traffic, but on average, we get to school at 7:50. The latest we have ever arrived is about 8:30 or so.”
Having to wake up before the crack of dawn can stir up mixed emotions when comparing the morning routine of a student that lives far away and lucky ones that lives close by.
“I have many emotions when dealing with this topic,” said Huggins. “I often find myself jealous of kids who wake up at seven and get to just ride to school everyday.”
For Huggins, she has encountered many students surprised by her trek to get to school.
“I’ve talked to several people that live less than 15 or so minutes from school and they’re always so surprised that I take two buses and wake up so early,” said Huggins. “They tell me that they could never wake up that early, usually waking up around seven. Some have told me that they don’t think what I go through is worth it.”
The evening trip home is no short ride either. It can take some students over an hour to get home.
“I get home by 4:30 or 5pm sometimes,” said junior Zaria Henry. “I’d have to stay up till around 11pm or 12am, sometimes one. I wake up early to get work done or work on the bus.”
Staying up late and then waking up early can be detrimental to brain development and stress levels.
“I have been waking up around five for about seven years now, but it does not make getting up any easier,” said Huggins. “I can say that I have hit certain points where I struggle academically due to staying up late and sacrificing sleep.”
In addition to limiting sleep, living far away and riding the bus can restrict what morning and after school activities students can participate in.
“I couldn’t always participate in things going on after school,” said junior Zaria Henry. “I struggled to get service hours and had to work hard on the weekends to meet the required hours.”
Living far away can also make it difficult for some students to get to school on time.
“Living in Lithonia, I have to be very methodical about my morning routine,” said junior Safiya Duncan. “I have to leave by a certain time and leaving even five minutes late can cause me to be late, which I am pretty often. It’s even harder on days when I have meetings, like NHS, in the morning where you can’t late.”
Attending a school so far from one’s home begs the question of why not go to a school in your own community.
Sending a child to a different school is done in the best interest of the child and parents do what they think is best for their child.
“I had a friend who lived in Stone Mountain, but her parents didn’t want her to go to her home school of Stephenson, so they rented an apartment in the Lakeside area so they could use that as their address and claim they lived in the area so that she could go to Evansdale,” said Huggins.
Students attend Chamblee through the magnet program after having gotten through the lottery. Parents send their students to Chamblee for a better education, especially those in underprivileged areas.
Most underprivileged areas and schools with lower test scores (such as Redan, Stephenson, Lithonia, and South Dekalb) are predominately black and have white populations of one percent or below.
Parents often try to get their students into magnet schools like Chamblee to offer them a better education, more diverse atmosphere, and avoid underperforming schools.
“They wanted a better education for me after realizing that I was learning too fast for where I was,” said Henry. “There weren’t good schools where I live, not as diverse, so my parents sent me to a school on this side of town. I don’t understand why the ‘black’ side can’t provide a better education.”
Through all the trials and tribulations, the struggle is all for the pursuit of a better education.
“I am grateful that every step I take is betterment for my future,” said Huggins. “I am amazed by the fact that I have been so resilient and have kept going strong all these years. I am keeping my head up in hopes that schools in my community can one day become equivalent to the ones in ‘white’ communities I have traveled to everyday for the past seven years.”