There is much talk about the degradation of our youth. You can search just about anywhere and hear depressing statistics about how poorly young people are preforming in life. While much of those reports are true, they do not represent all youth, especially not young folks like Celeste Cotton.
I asked Celeste if high school was what she expected it to be growing up and she replied by saying, “No”. I asked her to explain her answer, thinking that she would respond by saying that the work was harder, the school was boring, or that she had more difficulty making friends, but she said none of those things. She told me that “[she] didn’t think [she] would be where [she is]” – at Casady. She thought that she would end up in a low-performing public school struggling to stay motivated to succeed. But, God had another plan!
Today, Celeste is a senior at Casady, a private school, here in Oklahoma City. She began attending school there as a Freshman after graduating from Belle Isle Enterprise Middle School. Celeste grew up about 1/2 a mile north from where BCC sits and she and her family still live there today. I bring this up because the kids in “this” neighborhood get a very bad reputation. Considering the odds they face, much of the expectation is that “these kids” will not survive their high school years. Pastor Mike Hays is known for quoting a staggering statistic that 50% of the kids in the neighborhood Celeste lives in – the same neighborhood where BCC is – WILL NOT graduate. Well, Celeste WILL graduate!
What makes her different? Great question.
Celeste has always been a “go-getta”. She is focused and driven. She also has a mother she looks up to. In her own words, “the hardest working person I know.” She describes her mother as “selfless”. Her mother, a graduate of Langston University, encourages her success and supports her academic and future choices. Celeste also has a strong faith in Christ. She attributes her faith to her mother and to BCC.
Celeste started attending BCC via the Study Buddies after-school ministry while she was a 3rd grader at Britton Elementary. Now, along with her studies, dancing for Life-Change Ballroom, sports, and her community service through our youth ministry, Celeste also volunteers her time to tutor kids in the Mid/High Learning Center at BCC on Tuesday and Thursday nights. She says that thanks to Study Buddies she was able to find a church she could enjoy and one that would challenge her in her faith and walk with her in life.
When asked what she plans to do post high school, she said that she plans to attend college, major in Physical Therapy, minor in Spanish and pledge Delta. It is my honor to share Celeste’s story with you all. If you see her around please congratulate her and encourage her to continue trusting Christ and reaching her goals.