Tuesday, December 12, 2017
News Roundup

Teen who turned life around inspires other kids

Like a lot of youth counselors, Jamaree Argo will greet the kids at the Wilbert Davis/Belmont Heights Boys & Girls Club with a big smile and words of encouragement.

He'll tell them they can succeed. He'll tell them they can be anything they want to be. He'll speak from the heart, remembering when such encouragement lifted him out of an unpromising future to a path filled with hope.

"It's been a challenge because a lot of kids in that neighborhood aren't used to hearing 'good job,' " Argo explained. "I think it really touches them because you see kids come back every day and really excel in the program."

Argo's own story is living proof of the power of inspiring words. The Plant City High graduate works as a paid intern for the Boys & Girls Club after becoming one of five students from Hillsborough County chosen as a Bank of America student leader. The program also will allow him to travel to Washington, D.C.

I served on the panel of community leaders that sorted through applications to pick the winners from among 10 finalists. On Monday, I got to match a face with the name and story that proved it's never too late for a teen to turn his life around.

Argo, 18, grew up in Plant City with an older sister, a younger brother and a single mother who struggled to make ends meet. As a boy, he often got in trouble at school, frustrated by the plight his mother endured at home.

"She cried every day," Argo said. "So I was upset. Anything anybody said to me offended me and I retaliated.

"I couldn't do nothing about it. At that age, you can't go out and get a job. All I could do was stand by and watch her struggle."

Ashley Booth, his ninth-grade reading teacher at Plant City, saw potential even though he often refused to follow the rules.

He excelled at math and proved to be a natural leader, but where he led others often proved problematic.

"He wasn't going in the right direction," Booth said. "He was feisty. He fought back with me all the time. I worried a lot about him.

"I used to ask him, 'What are you going to do with yourself? He would say, 'I'm going to be somebody,' and I would say, 'Not with that attitude.' "

The turnaround began when Argo's older sister ran into trouble and his mother removed her from school and sent her to Job Corps of Florida. He decided he wanted to take a different route.

"I knew I needed to change my life and be a better role model for my younger brother," Argo said.

Teachers entered him in the AVID, or Advancement Via Individual Determination, program that enrolled him in Advanced Placement classes and began preparing him for college. Booth said Argo began using his leadership skills for good, mentoring and tutoring other students.

At home, two uncles, Maureo Thomas and Tony Price, helped fill the void left by the father Argo never knew. Thomas, a city of Lakeland supervisor, and Price, an IT specialist at MacDill Air Force Base, took him on trips and shared their success stories.

"They had the kind of life I wanted," Argo said.

He graduated in June, and Booth said she cried when he walked across the stage. She taught Isiah, Jamaree's younger brother, this year and described him as "the spitting image of everything Jamaree has become."

Argo drew the attention of colleges after scoring a 29 on the ACT. In August, he begins classes at Florida Gulf Coast University with hopes of majoring in engineering or secondary education.

So often, child advocates rightfully talk about the importance of early intervention and focusing on the years 0-8. Some will tell you that if a student is on the wrong path by the time he reaches high school, you can't turn him around.

Argo shows us it's never too late to get back on track. And that's a lesson he's sharing this summer with the kids at the Boys & Girls Club.

That's all I'm saying.

Comments
Nicko’s Fine Foods, classic diner and Seminole Heights icon, closes after six decades

Nicko’s Fine Foods, classic diner and Seminole Heights icon, closes after six decades

Nicko’s Fine Foods, known as the place Elvis Presley ate following a 1956 concert and Tampa’s last classic prefabricated diner, has shut down after more than 60 years in business.Owners Karen and Nicholas Liakos could not be reached for comment but w...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
Top 5 at noon: Warren Sapp accused of harassment; NFL Network suspends three analysts over sexual assault allegations; Star Wars: The Last Jedi has everything The Force Awakens was missing; and more

Top 5 at noon: Warren Sapp accused of harassment; NFL Network suspends three analysts over sexual assault allegations; Star Wars: The Last Jedi has everything The Force Awakens was missing; and more

Here are the latest headlines and updates on tampabay.com.WARREN SAPP ACCUSED OF HARASSMENT; NFL NETWORK SUSPENDS THREE ANALYSTS OVER SEXUAL ASSAULT ALLEGATIONSWarren Sapp, a former Buc and Pro Football Hall of Famer, has been accused of sexual hara...
Updated: 19 minutes ago
Creating PDQ from scratch: CEO of growing brand came from Bucs’ front office

Creating PDQ from scratch: CEO of growing brand came from Bucs’ front office

Shortly after leaving his job as chief financial officer of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to strike out on his own as an entrepreneur, Nick Reader wondered if he’d made the right move. "I probably had one of the coolest jobs in Tampa," said Reader, 42. Si...
Updated: 22 minutes ago
‘Lead us not into’ what? Pope Francis suggests changing the words of the Lord’s Prayer.

‘Lead us not into’ what? Pope Francis suggests changing the words of the Lord’s Prayer.

One of the best-known prayers in the English language might need an update for the sake of theological clarity, Pope Francis recently suggested in an interview.The words in the Lord’s Prayer that ask, "Lead us not into temptation," can cause confusio...
Updated: 22 minutes ago
Downtown St. Pete’s 24-hour diner 2nd & Second is open

Downtown St. Pete’s 24-hour diner 2nd & Second is open

Downtown St. Petersburg’s only 24/7 restaurant has opened and doesn’t plan to close, ever. The 2nd & Second diner at the corner of Second Street and Second Avenue N will remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week offering a spot f...
Updated: 27 minutes ago
Warren Sapp accused of harassment; NFL Network suspends three analysts over sexual assault allegations

Warren Sapp accused of harassment; NFL Network suspends three analysts over sexual assault allegations

Warren Sapp, a former Buc and Pro Football Hall of Famer, has been accused of sexual harassment while working as an analyst with NFL Network, according to a lawsuit.NFL Network has suspended analysts Marshall Faulk, Heath Evans and Ike Taylor "pendin...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Could the Yankees’ new Death Star prompt a Rays surrender?

Could the Yankees’ new Death Star prompt a Rays surrender?

I have a theory that Major League Baseball is always way more interesting when the New York Yankees are good.Well, the Yankees got way better in the past few days.But baseball didn’t get more interesting. It got way worse.And it could get worse in Ta...
Updated: 1 hour ago
French group to take over Westfield malls for $15.7 billion

French group to take over Westfield malls for $15.7 billion

Three Tampa Bay malls may soon be under new management. French real estate company Unibail-Rodamco has agreed to buy Australia-based shopping mall operator Westfield Corp. for $15.7 billion in cash and shares."Westfield would arguably be the best or ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Buchanan Middle aide used Instagram to seek nude photos, sex from students, deputies say

Buchanan Middle aide used Instagram to seek nude photos, sex from students, deputies say

TAMPA — A 24-year-old aide at Buchanan Middle School was arrested Monday and charged with using Instagram to ask for sex and nude photos from students, deputies said.Between Sept. 1 and the time of his arrest, Quinton J. Bradford used the social medi...
Updated: 1 hour ago
13 new movies you have to see over the holiday season

13 new movies you have to see over the holiday season

Hollywood has enough movies left to get everyone through the holidays plus any New Year’s hangover. Many are aiming for awards glory, a few are just here for the party. The really serious contenders won’t open nationwide until early 2018...
Updated: 1 hour ago