STUDENTS | May 20, 2022
Opemipo, known by her peers and teachers at Wells Preparatory Elementary Academy as Ope, admits that her first year at the school was incredibly challenging. She was in second grade, having just immigrated to Chicago from Nigeria. She explains that she didn’t talk much since she was surrounded by people she didn’t know and needed to work extremely hard to improve her English. Now, she’s about to graduate from Wells as one of its top students academically and is headed to Jones College Prep in the fall.
Ope’s progress didn’t happen all at once. Instead, she views it as a series of smaller moments or events that have combined for her to be a successful student. One of the first examples was her first performance at Wells, a Christmas show in third grade. She still has fond memories of bonding with her classmates by memorizing the different songs and dance moves.
Teachers at Wells like Ms. Linda Wesley, who has been teaching there for decades, have been impressed by Ope’s commitment to academic excellence. Ms. Wesley had a feeling that Ope would rise to the top of her class after having her older sister as a student is Wells. She notes that Ope has challenged herself by taking algebra this year and knows that she will continue to challenge herself in the years to come.
“Every assignment that I give Ope, she always goes above and beyond to complete it. I never have to worry about her not completing her work,” said Ms. Wesley. “She’s doing well in everything and is definitely going to be missed.”
Math is Ope’s favorite subject, and she’s currently learning about how to find the surface area of different three-dimensional shapes. She balances her studious side by enjoying anime outside of school. At Wells, she also balances two different sides of herself. She explains that while she knows she is a good role model for her peers inside the classroom, she also lets her goofy side show with her friends at recess.
“When I first came here, everything was new to me. Since I’ve been at Wells for so many years now, I feel like I’ve gotten in touch with more people,” said Ope. “We just like hanging around with each other and talking about stuff, like how my birthday is coming up soon and we’re going to an amusement park.”
April, Kelis, Lakaya, Xavier, and Khalil are the names Ope rattles off when describing her friend group. Soon, a new group of students will take their place as the eighth-graders at Wells, and Ope believes that staying on top of things academically is the best way to ensure a great eighth-grade year.
“You should always do your work on time so it doesn’t pile up, because that would be overwhelming,” she said. “You should also always follow directions because your eighth-grade year is important, and you want to be able to graduate.”
As she begins thinking about her freshman year, Ope wants to achieve a similar balance of thriving academically while also having the time to join clubs and make new friends. Eventually, she’d like to own her own business one day. And her time at Wells has been a strong foundation for achieving that goal. She uses the word “successful” to sum up her elementary school experience because it completely exceeded her expectations.
Just like Ope herself, her thoughts on graduating from Wells are not just one thing.
“Leaving this school is going to be a good experience but also a sad experience because it’s the first school I came to,” she said. “I’ve been friends with a lot of people here, so leaving them and teachers here is going to be both a sad and happy experience.”