Incredible kid role models for siblings, peers
Jun 25, 2018 04:07PM
● By Jet Burnham
Keevan Wilson transformed from a failing student to honor roll student and role model for his siblings and peers. (Jet Burnham/City Journals)
By Jet Burnham | [email protected]
Keevan Wilson, who just finished his sophomore year at Kearns High School, said he feels like a normal kid. But according to Granite School District, he is an Absolutely Incredible Kid.
“Keevan has overcome a lot of obstacles in his family life,” said Granite Education Foundation CEO Brent Severe. “Through those obstacles, he’s increased in his ability to overcome challenges, academically and socially. And because of that and being a good role model for his younger siblings, we decided to recognize him as an Incredible Kid.”
Wilson was chosen out of 68,000 students in Granite District for the award that recognizes students who’ve done well academically despite obstacles in their lives.
Keevan went from failing grades to the honor roll. He credits adults in his life who’ve supported him and inspired this change—such as Marcus Wilson, who was his little league football coach for years before he and his wife, Jessica, became Keevan’s foster parents and adopted him last December. Keevan said he also has teachers he feels he can talk to—such as his English teacher and his football coach at Kearns High School, Tyler Garcia.
“It was football that really helped me get my grades up,” said Keevan. “Now it’s just normal for me to get good grades.”
Garcia said the football program teaches the players personal accountability.
“We teach ‘only put energy into things you can control,’” he said. “Keevan’s taken that to a whole other level for a high school student. It’s a humbling experience to come across a student like that but even more humbling when they consider you somebody that’s helped them to get where they’re at.”
That is the reason Garcia left a six-figure salaried job to become a teacher.
“I had a realization one day that I need to be in the schools and give these kids some hope and some opportunities that they might not see,” he said. “I take this job very seriously. These kids are my kids, and I worry about them.”
Garcia said he helps students however he can, knowing they may just need somebody to believe in them. Garcia praised Keevan’s intelligence, work ethic and mindset.
“His attitude through all of this adversity has been admirable,” said Garcia. “If most adults had his same attitude in handling adversity, we’d have a lot less issues to deal with from an adult life than we do now.”
Keevan also understands his responsibility as a role model to his siblings. He said he has “enough” siblings—four younger siblings in the Wilson family and two blood siblings placed with another family.
“If I do wrong, they’re just going to do wrong; if I get bad grades, they’re just gonna get bad grades,” said Keevan.
Keevan said his turning point was when he realized he was responsible for his future.
“I just chose to turn it around because I wanted a better future for myself,” he said.
“It wasn’t really hard to turn my grades around—it was just a sense of urgency, if you don’t do it, then it’s going to affect your future,” Keevan said.
He said his proudest accomplishment so far has been earning a 3.6 GPA. He is aiming for a 4.0 GPA next year.
“The setbacks didn’t knock me down but made me stronger,” he said.
Being named Granite’s Absolutely Incredible Kid, Keevan received gifts donated by Granite Education Fund and community sponsors. He was given a $1,000 scholarship, a Chevron gift card, Nike brand clothing, a digital camera, a laptop, an annual pass to Kearns Oquirrh Park Fitness Center, University of Utah football swag and sideline tickets to a game.
Jessica Wilson, Keevan’s adoptive mom, said she has seen a big change in him over the last year.
“He never ever thought college was a possibility, and now that’s all he talks about,” she said.
Absolutely Incredible Kid Honorable Mentions went to Gancci Saintelus at Evergreen Junior, Allan Bahati at Olympus Junior, Jakob Satterfield at William Penn Elementary and Perpetua Stevens at Olympus High.