All About ABC: Part II

Learn more about Charles Leonard, one of the seven Edina ABC scholars.

February 19, 2014

In our second installment of All About ABC, Zephyrus sat down with senior Charles Leonard to talk about his experience with the Edina ABC program.

Zephyrus: Where are you from originally?

Charles: I lived in the Bronx in New York City!

Z: How did you learn about the ABC program? What planted the seed of possibly moving in your mind?

C.L.: My aunt went through ABC when she was in high school, and she suggested to my mom that I should do it. And my family couldn’t afford to keep sending me to my private Catholic school anymore, [so] she thought that it could be a better choice than going to public school in New York.

Photos taken by Bridgit Loeffelholz.
Photos taken by Bridgit Loeffelholz.

Z: How did the selection process work?

C.L.: My mom and I attended several meetings at the ABC building in New York, and then started looking at schools. I sort of wanted to stay close to home, like around the East Coast, but I started the process of looking for a school a little late, so a lot of schools had already selected their ABC students, so I ended up here.

Z: Were you initially willing to leave your home to come to Minnesota?

C.L.: Edina ABC got me a ticket to visit EHS. When I got here, Obi (McReynolds, senior) and Ryan (didn’t end up coming here) and I came and visited together. It was probably April or May, and it was nice, kind of sunny and hot. We got a tour of Edina and [Mall of America] and Southdale and stuff like that. Then on the last day we were evaluated through an interview. In the evaluation we were asked questions like if we would fit in at the school based on our character and what we would do in various situations. Because I had gotten such a late start on the ABC program, Minnesota was my last option, so it was here, or I was going to public school, and my whole family was telling me about the benefits of going to school here. So here I am!

Z: How does it feel that all of your old friends are in a place that was deemed a “challenging environment?”

C.L.: After being [in Edina] for a year, I realized who my friends really are. People I thought were my friends [in the Bronx] really aren’t. I was only friends with them because I wanted to fit in. If anything, I was the most responsible of that group of friends. They didn’t do anything that was actually bad, but they would do stuff like clown on the teacher, and I never really participated in that. I wish that everyone could take the opportunity that I’ve had. I feel sorry for [my friends in the Bronx], and wish that they could have this experience.

Z: What is one of the best parts of ABC, besides the new educational opportunity?

C.L.: I like that I can go outside and enjoy the outside, since it’s so much safer here, I can walk in the park without anyone hanging out looking for someone to target. Being here makes me feel a lot happier. I can jog, [play] football, and be outside instead of doing video games.

Z: If you could change one thing about ABC, what would it be?

C.L.: We’re not allowed to drive, and I understand why, but I wish that I could drive. Like they could have us take a test, to make sure that we’re competent drivers, and have the parents sign something saying that ABC isn’t responsible for our driving safety. And my family would pay for insurance. I know it’d be hard to deal with getting cars for us, but a lot of [ABC] students want to work, but we don’t always have consistent rides to get there. And it’d be nice to drive to sporting events. The host parents are super helpful, but they’re not always available. [Getting places] usually works out okay, but it’d be a lot easier in the end if we had the power to drive ourselves where we need to go.

Z:  And finally, if you could give Edina students a piece of advice, what would it be?

C.L.: You only have three years here, so build your relationships and connections with friends because they only last so long.

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