A press release from Crystal Lake High School District 155:
Prairie Ridge High School Graduate Defines Resiliency
Crystal Lake – Jakara Brooks has always been driven to succeed,.
She has not let her past dictate her future, she is resilient and determined.
Jakara is a senior at Prairie Ridge High School, and like her peers, she is excited about graduation, but her path is quite different than her classmates.
Throughout her high school career she faced homelessness, was abandoned by her guardian, and had to overcome academic challenges.
“School is really important to me, it bothers me when I’m not here.
“I want to be in an energetic environment and around people doing positive things.
“I always had the worry though since I’m adopted, I might end up in a situation that my birth mother was in.
“I fear I may end up in that same place.”
Jakara grew up near Chicago, her birth mother battled drug addiction, and she was adopted when she was a toddler.
“She moved to Crystal Lake with her guardian a few weeks after her freshman year began in 2013.
“I didn’t know anyone, and it was nerve wracking.
“I lived with another family, so we were deemed homeless.”
Eventually, they transitioned into their own apartment in Section 8 housing.
Jakara continued to attend Prairie Ridge High School.
She found a job at a senior living community center in Crystal Lake, working seven days a week, and more than 40 hours.
She took the Pace bus to get where she needed to go.
Unlike her peers, Jakara doesn’t have a driver’s license; a vehicle and insurance are not feasible and she doesn’t have the hours needed to complete the behind the wheel portion.
“People are helpful, and offer me rides. I always pay them for gas money.”
Her obstacles didn’t stand in her way.
Her lack of transportation did not affect her attendance.
Jakara has only missed three days her senior year.
She also understands her responsibilities to communicate with school personnel and her employer.
She often times spends free periods during the day to use the school phone to call work and local agencies.
“In order to get where I want to be in my life, I have always had a plan, a five-year plan, a ten-year plan. I need to do the work.”
Jakara references her supports at school, her spirituality, and her ability to not dwell on her past as her motivators.
With a smile, she agrees the journey has been difficult.
In October, her guardian abandoned her and her older sibling.
For four months, there was uncertainty about whether their guardian would come back, would they be evicted, and where would they go.
Through a mutual friend, both siblings were taken in by a local family.
“For me, it’s all about resiliency.
“Despite everything I’ve been through,
“I could have been through worse situations with drugs and alcohol, and I’m thankful I can move past it.”
Jakara has been part of Prairie Ridge’s resiliency group, she also helps in the student services office and the dean’s office assisting with tasks and delivering passes to classrooms.
She also takes it upon herself to mentor new students, and show them around school.
In the fall, Jakara will attend McHenry County College to complete her general education classes and plans to transfer to a four-year college or technical program to become an ultrasound technician.
“I’ve been thinking about this since freshman year.
“My priority was to find a career, and I’ve done a lot research to find out about training, how long it takes, and salary.”
Jakara persevered and her determination to succeed will pay off when she walks across the stage to receive her high school diploma on Saturday, May 27.
“I just feel like there are people who are in a worse situation than me.
“I still have people who care about me.”