Forging a path to success: Support at home, determination, openness to diversity make a difference

From the Register-Mail:

Cole Spinks and Malcolm X Cagle carry a legacy.

The good friends are juniors at Galesburg High School, involved in myriad activities and have big plans beyond high school. Unlike the 26.7 percent of the class of 2009’s black students who did not graduate, they plan to collect their diplomas and go to college.

Spinks is a three-sport athlete, participates in the school musical and plays bass in the jazz choir and mixed choir. He is weighing opportunities to play collegiate football or wrestle and is considering a career in physical therapy.

Cagle has participated in wrestling, football and track. He is also part of Stage Call, Tomorrow’s Teachers, Spanish Club and volunteers time as a tutor. He is a Gale Scholar who plans to attend Carl Sandburg College and move on to Knox College. He views his future as wide open.

Spinks and Cagle are the kind of students any high school could offer up as evidence of individuals choosing their educational path and working hard for success. Both have overcome what could have been obstacles — and attempted to delineate where the foundation of their successes was laid.

And while they are accepted by their peers — of all colors — and nurtured by the high school’s teachers, coaches and administrators, Spinks and Cagle said being a black student can be a debilitating burden for some…..