Port Chester High School freshman Na-Keem Marks is a winner of the 2012 Overcoming the Odds Award from Student Advocacy, the Elmsford-based group which has the mission of getting students on track to graduate by advocating improved educational opportunities, protecting educational rights and fostering effective communication between families and schools.
The awards program was created by Student Advocacy in 1996 to honor youth. Student Advocacy says that when the awards are announced, most winners are surprised because few have had any past experience when they felt successful and worthy of being honored. This experience changes that.
Funds raised at an awards dinner honoring the winners support scholarships for the students and the Overcoming the Odds project, which provides educational advocacy services to help resolve the school problems of students who have significant problems which place them at-risk of school failure and/or dropping out.
Na-Keem was nominated by Valerie Henigson, school psychologist at Port Chester Middle School.
Here’s how the awards program described Marks:
As a little child who endeared himself to school staff, Na-Keem was nevertheless identified as a student who could not control his aggressive impulses. With special education support, Na-Keem learned to control his behavior, for example, saying his angry retorts only in his head. As his emotional difficulties lessened, his learning disabilities became more evident with weaknesses in auditory processing, reading, writing and math. Despite his own challenges, he helps his family extensively and is also the Student President of the Port Chester NAACP. In the face of emotional and learning disabilities, he has become a successful student, athlete and community member with goals for college.
“First, I would like to thank Dr. Val for nominating me for this award,” Marks said about the award. “I'm very grateful, she has been there for me since first grade, helping me with my anger, and helping me stay out of trouble. Also I would like to thank Jackie Meehan for teaching me new things in technology and always being there to talk to. Also, my teacher, Miss Minicozzi, who keeps me on track in High School and makes sure I do my work.”
Marks also thanked his mom.
“Even though she seemed strict at times, she kept me on the right track. I would like to thank my grandmother and great-grandmother for having fun with me and always being there,” Marks said. “Lastly I would like to thank everyone involved in the OTO Awards for all the great work that they do and for choosing me for this award. It has encouraged me to keep trying when I feel discouraged. Thank you.”