Winter of senior year is an expectant time. Not only are the holidays and winter break around the corner, but college decisions loom, and the upcoming months are full of anticipation and excitement. Will the thick envelope bearing an acceptance letter arrive today? Which school did your friend gain acceptance to, did he get his first choice school?
The process is very familiar right now for one of our senior boys, James*. James came to us over three years ago at the age of 14 as a private placement, meaning that he was not removed from his home by the state. His mother placed him with us for what she described as behavioral problems. That being the case, upon arrival we expected to see these behaviors his mother described. When he settled in quickly and responded well to the structure and stability that are part of life at Epworth, his cottage staff were happy – albeit confused. The cottage staff had a hard time reconciling the well behaved child before them, with the one they had expected.
Once his cottage staff had gained his trust enough for him to open up to them about his home life prior to Epworth, it came out that the relationship James had with his mom had been strained for as long as he could remember. For that reason, he had lived with his Dad for most of his childhood. Unfortunately, his dad became incarcerated and James had no choice but to live with his mother again. Once he was back in his mother’s household, they started to have conflict with each other again, which is what led to James being placed at Epworth.
For James, being at Epworth was exactly what was needed for him to thrive. His peers and cottage staff at Epworth, as well as his teachers and coaches at school, have all seen him develop over the years as he pushes himself to achieve more in every aspect of his life. He is a respectful and kind young man, who works hard and wants to do well.
His hard work and determined spirit started to get him noticed on the football field at Dreher. He showed up to practice on time, worked hard, and never missed a practice or a game. He had a talent for the sport that got him noticed as well, and his coaches described him as a pleasure to coach and have on the team. Attending his games became an event that his Epworth staff and fellow cottage mates looked forward to throughout the fall. They would all gather in the stands to watch James on the field and cheer him on. And it wasn’t just on the field that James excelled, either. His schoolwork and grades were a point of pride for him just as much as his athletics. His teachers describe him as a pleasure to have in class, and as a student that they could always rely on to participate in classroom discussions.
This winter, with his senior year well underway, James started to think more seriously about where he wanted to go and what he wanted to do after high school. He liked the structure that Epworth provided, and wanted to go somewhere where he could continue to have the same sense of order and routine that he found so comforting at ECH. When someone mentioned to him that The Citadel has a special program that helps to admit children that come from a foster or group home background, it seemed like a perfect fit for James. He filled out the application, even securing a recommendation from Rev. John Holler, Epworth’s President. He expressed the sentiment about James that everyone who knows him would agree with – James is a hard worker, an honest and trustworthy individual, and The Citadel would be lucky to have him.
So for now, James is in the same boat a lot of high school seniors are in this time of year, as they await the news of where the future will take them. Wherever that road leads for James, whether it is The Citadel or another school, we know he will end up a successful young man.