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‘You can’t cheat’ and other good back-to-school advice from experts — CPS kids

Back-to-school advice from Destinye Vickers, starting second grade at William H. Brown Elementary School on the Near West Side: “Know how to read books, listen to the teacher, be nice to students — and don’t ever walk out. When a teacher tells you to walk out, that’s when you walk out.” I Maria de la Guardia / Sun-Times

Know how to read books. Be yourself. Don’t goof around. And definitely don’t cheat.

That’s some of the back-to-school advice we got when we asked the experts — Chicago Public Schools kids ranging from age 5 to high school — what they wish someone had told them about school when they were younger.

What do kids need to know before walking in to school?

“Kindergarten should be really easy for you, like you fit in kindergarten, and, like, some people know a little bit more than you, but you can also catch up.” — Kamaria Lewis, going into fifth grade at Medger Evers Elementary School, Longwood Manor.

“They should know how to read books, listen to the teacher, be nice to students — and don’t ever walk out. When a teacher tells you to walk out, that’s when you walk out.” — Destinye Vickers, starting second grade at William H. Brown Elementary School, Near West Side.

“Second grade is about getting you ready for third grade.” — Victor Williamson Jr., starting third grade at Alex Haley Elementary Academy, Roseland.

Victor Williamson Jr., 8. | Maria de la Guardia / Sun-Times
Victor Williamson Jr., 8. | Maria de la Guardia / Sun-Times

What’s the best part about the grade you just finished?

“We get to play in the park, you get to play inside with blocks.” — Marquise McMorris, starting kindergarten at Haley.

“Math because I really love math and I just like the equations.” — Kamari Lewis (Kamaria’s twin), starting fifth grade at Evers.

Twin sisters Kamari and Kamaria Lewis, 10. I Maria de la Guardia / Sun-Times
Twin sisters Kamari and Kamaria Lewis, 10. I Maria de la Guardia / Sun-Times

“When you had a week of, like, relief that you didn’t have, like, no tests or any homework.” — Kamila Solis, going into eighth grade at LaSalle Elementary Language Academy, Old Town.

“Freedom.” — Ja’keeta, 15, starting 10th grade at the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, Mount Greenwood.

Video by Maria de la Guardia

The hardest part?

“Quiet time. Everybody couldn’t be quiet.” — Vickie Williamson, 5, about to start kindergarten at Haley.

Vickie Williamson, 5. | Maria de la Guardia / Sun-Times
Vickie Williamson, 5. | Maria de la Guardia / Sun-Times

“Reading and comprehension because I just don’t like comprehension.” — Kamari.

“Grades — keeping them up. Homework — there was a lot of homework every day, and the tests were, like, very hard. ” — Kamila.

“Tests.” — Ja’keeta.

What about when school gets hard?

“You can’t cheat. You cannot look at other people’s stuff.” — Destinye.

“You have to rely on yourself to make sure you put in all your work.” — Don Rose, going into ninth grade at Robert Lindblom Math & Science Academy High School, Englewood.

Don Rose, 13. | Maria de la Guardia / Sun-Times
Don Rose, 13. | Maria de la Guardia / Sun-Times

What should you bring?

“School shirts, school sweaters and different kinds of shoes.” — Marquise.

“Glue, scissors, paper, pencils, pencil sharpeners.” — Vickie.

“A book bag. A lunch box if you want to bring lunch — Black Panther.” — Victor.

What about making friends?

“I asked people what are their names. I asked them, ‘Do they want to be friends?’ And they say, ‘Yes.’ ” — Vickie.

“I ask them at lunch if you want to be friends and sit together, and then they’ll be your friends.” — Kamaria.

“First, we just like play with each other, and then we just become best friends.” — Kamari.

“You lose a lot of friends. A lot of teachers separate other kids, from your best friends… because they want the other kids to listen and not, like, pay attention to the bad kids.” — Kamila.

Kamila Solis, 13. | Maria de la Guardia / Sun-Times
Kamila Solis, 13. | Maria de la Guardia / Sun-Times

“If you’re not popular, you’re still going to find a group you could fit in with. There’s not going to be a person that doesn’t like the stuff that you’re into.” — Don.

“Try not to make friends. Just act yourself, and they’ll come to you. And, yeah, that’s how you make friends.” — Ja’keeta.

Bottom line for a good year?

“Listen, and pay attention to everything.” — Victor.

“Stay on task. Don’t goof around with your friends. And listen.” — Kamila.

“There’s a lot of homework you’re gonna have to do. And if you’re just, like, too lax and you forget to just do like a couple of assignments, and you have, like, a test on Friday…you’re probably going to fail the test.” — Don.

“Focus more on the quizzes and activities and stuff.” — Ja’keeta.

Ja’keeta Lewis, 15. | Maria de la Guardia / Sun-Times
Ja’keeta Lewis, 15. | Maria de la Guardia / Sun-Times

What if you’re scared?

“I was scared before I went to pre-K. I started crying for my mom. I don’t cry anymore… It’s something fun. It’s nothing scary.” — Marquise.

Marquise McMorris Jr., 5. | Maria de la Guardia / Sun-Times
Marquise McMorris Jr., 5. | Maria de la Guardia / Sun-Times

“Don’t be scared. It’s OK.” — Destinye.

Our expert advisers:

  • Vickie Williamson, 5, and Marquise McMorris Jr., 5, going into kindergarten at Alex Haley Elementary Academy, 11411 S. Eggleston Ave.
  • Destinye Vickers, 6, going into second grade at William H. Brown Elementary School, 54 N. Hermitage Ave.
  • Victor Williamson Jr., 8, going into third grade at Alex Haley Elementary Academy, 11411 S. Eggleston Ave.
  • Kamaria Lewis and Kamari Lewis, 10, going into fifth grade at Medgar Evers Elementary School, 9811 S. Lowe Ave.
  • Kamila Solis, 13, going into eighth grade at LaSalle Elementary Language Academy, 1734 N. Orleans St.
  • Don Rose, 13, going into ninth grade at Robert Lindblom Math & Science Academy High School, 6130 S. Wolcott Ave.
  • Ja’keeta Lewis, 15, going into 10th grade at Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, 3857 W. 111th St.