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This I Believe: False Boundaries

Joe Tisckos - Southeast High School
Beatrice Bonner
NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS
Joe Tisckos - Southeast High School

I cross the train tracks on the Stanford Avenue extension, and suddenly, I'm transported. For many in my town, the train tracks symbolize a wholly different world. I've been told the boundary set by these train tracks is going to negatively impact my education and high school experience. When you go to school on this side of the train tracks, everybody on the other side has a preconceived idea of what the future has in store for you. Some think it's wise to file for a transfer to another school on the other side, but I found it wiser to not listen. 

I knew the effort I put in is the main metric of my outcomes. When I cross this socially constructed demilitarized zone, all opinions are erased from my mind. The consensus believes a school's socioeconomic situation predetermines outcomes, the past four years have provided me with an experience to that made me believe that is false.

2020 This I Believe Illinois author Joe Tisckos of Southeast High School discusses how "crossing the train tracks" has changed his perspective on life.

The truth is, the experiences at my high school have been more than I could've imagined. Matters certainly haven't unfolded the way I envisioned they would, but then again, why would they? My crossing of the train tracks has permeated throughout all my experiences over the past four years. This spirit instilled in me helped me embark on a unique journey both academically and individually. By the time I graduate, I will have competed in eight seasons of varsity sports. Though I may not be the most able golfer (or tennis player for that matter,) my involvement holds a much higher value than my skill. My hours of dedication mean much more than a Sectional title ever will. Priceless relationships were crafted throughout the long, tough seasons. Additionally, I've served as president of my class as well as president of Executive Board for student council. Collaboration with my peers along with volunteering in the community has given me a great sense of self-worth. I know these are opportunities I never would've had at any other school.

This lesson will help me far beyond my high school years. Knowing that most things in life are unpredictable leads to making the most out of those very things. If I'd erred on the side of caution and stayed on my side of the train tracks, things would be a whole lot different right now. It's hard to see into my future, but one thing I do know, is that I believe in the school on the wrong side of the train tracks.

Copyright 2021 NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS. To see more, visit NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS.

Joe Tisckos