STUDENTS | June 22, 2021
Ms. Kelly Longmire-Crawford, a middle school math teacher at Mollison Elementary School, is known for sprinkling famous quotes into every class period, and one quote in particular resonated with recent graduate Melissa: “So a man thinketh, so is he.”
“That quote made me realize that what I manifest and what I think can come into existence,” said Melissa. “Now, when I’m in my room thinking about the next steps that I want to take, I always think about how I can affect that situation and how my presence can impact other people.”
Melissa’s academic achievements reflect her positive mindset. Not only is she known for being a consistent honor roll student, she’s the one who usually takes hold of classroom discussions and encourages the entire class to take a deeper dive into the subject they are talking about. She explains that she’s always been the student who had “the answers,” but feeling comfortable expressing herself at school has been the product of her supportive teachers spurring her on.
Ms. Longmire-Crawford remembers Melissa joining the school as a fifth-grader, and she was immediately captivated by how she carried herself. She compares Melissa’s way of answering questions and contributing to classroom conversations to how another teacher in the room would respond. On top of her infectious smile and laugh, Ms. Longmire-Crawford notes that she will especially miss Melissa’s effortless optimism and empathy toward her peers.
“The one thing about Melissa is that whatever situation she is in, she always seems to make the best out of it. With her, it’s not about where she’s coming from, it’s about where she’ll end up,” said Ms. Longmire-Crawford. “She was in my eighth-grade math class as a seventh-grader, and pretty soon, all of the other students were asking for her opinion and crowding around her desk.”
Beyond excelling at school, Melissa hasn’t been afraid to pursue unique interests in her free time. Her fascination with Asian cultures led her to study two Asian languages, starting with Korean and now moving into Japanese. At the very least, she’d like to study abroad in South Korea while in college, but won’t discount the possibility of moving there permanently.
One extracurricular she enjoyed at Mollison was student council. She loved taking on a leadership role, and, though the pandemic affected what she was able to accomplish, she’s now even more encouraged to continue participating in student council in high school.
“Being a student president will help me achieve one of the goals I have for high school, which is to grow as a person and find my identity,” she said. “I really enjoyed playing a part in things like school dances, even if it was just picking out the decorations. Sometimes small things matter more than big things, and I like to start with small accomplishments and work my way toward big accomplishments.”
Melissa’s final accomplishment at Mollison was being named the school’s co-valedictorian. In her speech, she congratulated her peers on not giving up, even when there were more opportunities to do so than ever before. She made sure to remind everyone that the perseverance they displayed throughout the past year is exactly what they need to maintain to overcome challenges in the future. And, of course, she infused it with some humor to show off her infectious laugh.
Her remarkable growth at Mollison has already opened a lot of doors, but she will be the first person to tell you that reaching your goals takes time. For another student who doesn’t feel like they have “the answers” quite yet, she wants them to know that their time will come if they aren’t afraid to take a few risks.
“Just like a test, you can’t reach your goals just by cramming them in because it takes time and preparation to get where you want to be,” she said. “I would recommend taking it slow and setting smaller goals on your way to your big goals. And can’t shouldn’t be part of your vocabulary without a yet. It’s not that I can’t do this. It’s that I can’t do this yet.”
Melissa is the first Mollison student ever to head to the Latin School of Chicago for high school, earning a full academic scholarship. We’re celebrating graduates like her throughout the month of June. Make sure to follow Chicago Public Schools on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to meet more incredible members of the Class of 2021.