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Eighth-Grade Student at Gresham School of Excellence Reflects on the Positive Impact He Has Made on Those Around Him

09 January 2024

Ryan has been a positive influence on his peers since he joined the Gresham community in fourth grade.

Gresham Student

Mrs. Carolyn Knight-Neal, the director of culture and climate at Gresham School of Excellence, says that eighth-grader Ryan has been a light throughout the school. She describes him as generous, caring, helpful, and extremely driven to reach his goals. 

Ryan has been a positive influence on his peers since he joined the Gresham community in fourth grade. In his first year at the school, he quickly met his best friend after a mutual friend introduced them. They clicked immediately and still remain good friends even though they no longer attend school together. 

Every day at Gresham brings something new for Ryan to enjoy. One day might involve bouncy castles to engage students about the start of a new school year, which he says is one of his favorite memories. Another might be “Cozy Day,” where students get to bring blankets and other comfortable items to school with them. 

However, one thing that hasn’t changed has been Ryan’s effort to continuously improve his academic performance. 

That has come naturally to him in subjects like English that he finds enjoyable. He loves to write and read fantasy novels. Math, on the other hand, has been more of a challenge. 

Ryan explains that he really struggled in math last year but committed himself to studying more and writing things down to help him remember them. Now, he says that he is excelling in math. He’s currently learning about the Pythagorean theorem, which he says is going great. 


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His math teacher, Ms. Cruz, has had him in her class for the past two years and has seen his growth firsthand. She describes him as someone who advocates for himself and is always willing to ask his teachers for support. 

Ms. Cruz also notes that memorable aspects of having Ryan in her class are his visible celebrations when he understands what he is learning, which add joy and energy to the classroom. These celebrations are typically followed by Ryan helping his peers get to that same point of understanding. 

Ryan says that not only do Ms. Cruz and his other teachers help him with his work, but they also have faith in his ability to succeed, which he believes gives him the motivation to push on even when he is struggling. 

Having his teachers to lean on is one of the reasons why Ryan is interested in going to college to study psychology. He knows that many other students face struggles and challenges just as he has, and he believes that many of them could overcome these issues if they had someone trustworthy to talk to. 

Eventually, Ryan would like to make a positive impact by pursuing a career as a therapist. He knows that his future career needs to be rooted in helping others, and he believes that reminding himself of this goal will help him continue to succeed. 

As he continues working toward his big goals, he’s sure to accomplish many smaller goals along the way. Since he’s in eighth grade, he’ll be thinking a lot about high school over the next several months. He knows that he wants to go to a diverse high school so he can meet peers with a variety of different backgrounds. 

And, later this school year, he hopes to be named his school’s valedictorian. He says that his speech will allow him to share his gratitude for the people he is thankful for and tell the story of how he got to where he is today. 

Ryan believes that he got here by putting his all into everything he did, even when it was hard. Attending Gresham has been a key part of his work ethic and determination; he knows it has made all the difference to go to a school he looks forward to attending each morning. 


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