Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

At Gibbs High, some follow the beat of determination

Gibbs High senior Jerrid Robinson literally drummed his way into the U.S. Marine Corps.

He enlisted after auditioning to play in the corps band and earning an invitation.

But he had another reason for choosing the military.

"It's me wanting to make sure I'm financially secure," explains Robinson, with no hint of sadness or anger in his voice. "My mom struggled financially before she died and never got out. My dad's struggling, and he'll never get out. I don't want to be like that."

I met Robinson and a pair of other students while visiting Gibbs for Thursday's Great American Teach-In.

As Robinson, 17, continued to share his story, fraught with family challenges yet buoyed by determination, two of his fellow seniors listened in.

Robinson said he intends to attend college during his stint so he can be a role model for his younger sisters.

When he explained that his mother, Angela Brooks, died last year, classmate Derrica Fletcher began to cry.

Fletcher, 17, said she couldn't help it. She had shared classes with Robinson for years, yet had no idea.

Tahkerra Jackson, 17, was less emotional but still moved.

Fletcher and Jackson could touch others with their own stories. Fletcher's father Derrick was shot and killed when she was in second grade. Jackson's mother Teresena died when she was in seventh grade.

Like Robinson, however, they continue to persevere and excel. Both take Advanced Placement calculus and remain on track to attend college. Fletcher has her sights set on a civil engineering degree from the University of Central Florida, and Jackson plans to earn an electrical engineering degree from the University of Miami.

The teens wanted to share an important message: Gibbs has students like them who have risen above the negative attention showered on the school over its failure to meet the state's FCAT requirements.

In words and actions, they display a sense of pride. Fletcher and Jackson, who wore Gibbs jackets, are both cheerleaders. Robinson boasts of being in the school's Pinellas County Center for the Arts program, which has produced talented graduates such as American Idol contestant Michael Lynche.

Yes, they're even a little defensive, but that happens when students from other schools taunt them. Fletcher and Jackson noted that at a recent Future Business Leaders of America gathering, a club member received catcalls after introducing herself as a Gibbs High student.

The three didn't deny the school's struggles with the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, but they also see a need to combat the sense of defeat that overwhelms some kids who fail the test.

Improvement can't come when hope is lost.

"They give all that they can and then if they still don't pass, they just think it's not for them," Jackson said. "If they think they have no skills and can't do anything or be anyone, there's nothing you can to do to change their minds."

Fortunately, these three haven't lost hope. They have a palpable hunger to do better for themselves.

I wish them well, but what I really wish is that we could replicate their hunger and give it to every student struggling to erase the stain of failure.

That's all I'm saying.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report.

At Gibbs High, some follow the beat of determination 11/19/10 [Last modified: Friday, November 19, 2010 9:13pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Judge throws out $458,000 condo sale, says Clearwater attorney tricked bidders

    Real Estate

    CLEARWATER — Pinellas County Circuit Judge Jack St. Arnold on Monday threw out the $458,100 sale of a gulf-front condo because of what he called an "unscrupulous" and "conniving" scheme to trick bidders at a foreclosure auction.

    John Houde, left, whose Orlando copany was the high  bidder June 8 at the foreclosure auction of a Redington Beach condo, looks in the direction of Clearwater lawyer and real estate investor Roy C. Skelton, foreground,  during a hearing Monday before Pinellas County Circuit Judge Jack St. Arnold.  [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times ]
  2. Vision Zero plan to make Hillsborough roads safer to be unveiled


    TAMPA — Vision Zero, the coalition trying to make Hillsborough County safer for bicyclists and pedestrians, is set to unveil its action plan on Tuesday morning.

    Members of the Vision Zero workshop cross Hillsborough Avenue and Kelly Road during a on-street audit of Town 'N Country roads in January. [JAMES BORCHUCK  |   Times]
  3. Pasco EDC names business incubator head in Dade City, will open second site


    Pasco County economic development officials are busy reigniting their business start-up resources following the departure earlier this year of Krista Covey, who ran the Pasco Economic Development Council's SMARTStart business incubator in Dade City.

    Andrew Romaner was promoted this summer to serve as program director of the Dade City SMARTStart Entrepreneur Center, a start-up incubator service of the Pasco Economic Development Council. He succeeds Krista Covey, who relocated to Texas for another startup position. [Courtesy of Pasco EDC]
  4. Clearwater lawyer and real estate investor Roy C. Skelton, center, attends a hearing on Monday Circuit Court Judge Jack St. Arnold at the Pinellas County Courthouse in Clearwater. The hearing was requested by attorneys representing John Houde, left, who filed a motion to invalidate the sale of a $458,000 Redington Beach condo, a deal orchestrated by Skelton, who stands accused of deliberately misleading bidders in a the June 8 foreclosure auction. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]
  5. Sarasota GOP names Dick Cheney 'Statesman of the Year'


    Former Vice President Dick Cheney will be honored as "Statesman of Year" by the Sarasota GOP, a title that twice went to Donald Trump.

    Dick and Liz Cheney