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Lots of schools across the country offer after-school programs which students can take advantage of, including performing arts, athletics, clubs, and other activities. The value of these programs is that they allow students to interact with one another outside of the classroom, in a more relaxed setting, which can lead to positive outcomes in social and emotional growth as well as intellectual development.

Set Your Goal
By Erica Loos

But Momence High School has a very special program in place that you won’t find everywhere, and it’s something that fills a unique niche in the lives of dozens of Momence students. It is the Tutoring program, wherein students can devote set-aside time to work on assignments while receiving out of classroom assistance on a broad range of academic subjects.

DeWaun Speed, a Junior, is one student taking advantage of the Tutoring program offered by Momence. “My grades started slipping in science, and when I tried to bring science up, another grade started slipping,” Speed said. DeWaun decided it was time to get some extra help to keep his grades from slipping further. The after-school tutoring program is roughly an hour long, and Speed said it really helps in getting his assignments completed. “I feel like it puts me ahead of the game,” he said. Having a bit of a forgetful streak with the smaller things, the tutoring program allows DeWaun the dedicated time and specialized environment to focus on his school work. “I’m the type of person, if I take it home, I’m going to forget about it,” Speed said.


Struggling to keep his grades up was not always a reality for Speed. He was in the eighth-grade when the COVID-19 pandemic swept the nation, and had been doing well academically up to that point. “Before it started, I was doing better in school,” he said. The COVID-19 pandemic had a devastating impact on education, the extent of which is yet to be fully realized. “When the pandemic started, I was angry… I had A’s and B’s… But then the pandemic [started], and then it was just like, it was a hit [to my grades],” Speed recalled. It forced educators to reimagine teaching from the ground up—moving from traditional, in-person classrooms, to virtual teaching systems. Administrators, teachers, and students alike struggled to acclimate themselves to what would become their new normal for an uncertain period of time. “I didn’t even know that we still had school, so I just stopped doing the work,” he said. After receiving notification from the school regarding his missing assignments, DeWaun realized he needed to catch up, but with a new semester and new assignments on the way, he quickly fell behind. If he could change one thing from the past, he says he would, “Take away the pandemic.”


Among his friends, Speed said of himself, “I’m the funny one. You know, every friend group got to have that funny one.”


When he isn’t hanging out with his friends, DeWaun likes to stretch his mechanical legs by tinkering with small engines like those found in four-wheelers and dirt bikes, but “I haven’t really got on cars, yet,” he says. Driving is another hobby that he enjoys. “I found that I like driving. I like driving long distances,” said DeWaun with a huge smile. It makes sense, then, that he’s decided to pursue a career in transportation, specifically truck driving. “I’m going to start, just so I can get comfortable with it, [driving] local,” he said. Once he’s comfortable, he’d like to start taking longer trips, and moving up to the long-haul, cross-country driving. Not satisfied with a simple broad strokes approach, Speed already has plans for a business model on a larger scale. “After a while, you could buy a semi, … be an owner, own multiple trucks and send them all out on routes, and get paid for it,” he mused.


When asked to end the interview with one final thought, DeWaun took his time and considered his words very carefully. What came next were three small words that express the enormous independence, ambition, and determination that this student embodies. “Set your goal,” he said.

I’m the funny one. You know, every friend group got to have that funny one.

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