Bridgeport Student Overcomes Challenges
Santos was fortunate in that he always had a loving family to deter him from the lure of the streets. If his mother was working, he would stay with his grandmother. If she was busy, his uncle would take him for ice cream or to the park to play baseball. Siberon says Santos's uncle was the father figure in his life and that there was always a good role model in her son's life to keep him on the right path.
Going to the magnet school helped, too. Santos says the good thing about going to High Horizons was that it didn't force him to switch schools every time he moved. "I hung out with a group of good kids for eight solid years," Santos says. "I was very lucky."
When it was time for high school, he was automatically accepted into the Central High School Magnet Program because he had gone to High Horizons. He believes Central Magnet helped him immensely. "Because I saw a bunch of kids getting ready to go to college," he says, "it was almost like I had to go."
One of Santos's former teachers agrees. Anne Marie Kennedy has taught in the magnet program for the last three years and at public school for 10 years before that. She was Santos's grade 10 and 11 math teacher. "Victor knew he would go to college. I think most kids in the magnet program expected it. It was never like 'are you going', but more like 'where are you going'," she said. "Most of these kids are motivated by good parents."
Santos describes the magnet program as "intense and rigorous, with harder classes and better teachers," and says the program aims to prepare students for college. It's inside the public high school. A small corridor and stucco wall are the only things that separate nearly 400 public school students from the 200 or so Central High Magnet School students. Santos says the students were noticeably different. "You can tell who was in public school because they just didn't care about academics," he remembers.
Kennedy says Santos earned B's and C's in her honors pre-calculus and AP calculus classes, but says she wasn't sure if Santos maximized his potential, remembering "he liked to have fun, but always completed his work on time."
Having a good time was only one of Santos's priorities in high school. Santos remembers having to take over the role of "man of the house" for his two younger sisters during his freshman year of high school. When his mother was working double shifts at Dunkin Donuts, or as the manager at Autozone, or bringing Amanda to the cardiologist, Santos came home after school and took care of his sisters. For 17 years, he was the only man in the household.