[Hpn] Pappas valedictory?:Sole graduate may be last for school

Morgan W. Brown morganbrown@hotmail.com
Thu, 14 Jun 2001 14:43:26 -0400

Below is a forward of another article regarding the Pappas School in Phoenix 
Arizona, and the debate and battle in being waged in Congress regarding S.1 
- ESEA and the Kyl "School Segregation" Amendment, provided as a yet another 
follow-up -- FYI:


-------Forwarded article-------

Thursday, June 14, 2001
The Arizona Republic
[Phoenix, Arizona]
Pappas valedictory?
Sole graduate may be last for school

Mark Henle/The Arizona Republic

Pappas School senior Crystal Sumlin tries on her graduation cap for the 
first time.

By Karina Bland
The Arizona Republic
June 14, 2001 12:00:00

Crystal Sumlin is all there is to the Class of 2001, graduating tonight from 
the Thomas J. Pappas School for homeless children.

She is the school's first - and possibly last - graduate, depending on a 
vote expected today in Congress to ban federal funding for homeless schools. 
The school is under fire for segregating kids from their public school 

"If it weren't for Pappas, I don't think I would have made it to 
graduation," Sumlin said. "And I know I wouldn't be going to college." The 
school, open for more than a decade, added a high school three years ago, so 
its oldest students are juniors. But Sumlin, 17, who has almost straight A's 
- she got a C in trigonometry - finished her coursework a year early.
Related Media
Click here for a slideshow of Crystal Sumlin's last day.


Despite the uproar in Congress over her school, Sumlin is thinking only of 
finishing up a report on Arizona's unemployment rate and the new dress 
she'll wear under her black cap and gown.

Sumlin, her three younger sisters and little brother have been at Pappas for 
three years after a lifetime of switching schools. One year, she switched 
schools seven times.

She said her family moves about every three months, usually because the rent 
is too high, the landlord complains of too many kids, or her brother, Jason, 
16 and in a detention center, sometimes gets into trouble.

But they've been in the same place since November, the longest most of the 
kids remember without a move. They've lived in a shelter, cheap motels and 

"I hate moving," Sumlin said. "When I got older, I thought I wanted to 
travel, but, now, I don't know. I think I'll find a place and stay in it."

Mark Henle/The Arizona Republic
Teacher Sean Spellecy looks over Sumlin's final assignment for her American 
history class.

Eye on the ball

Shy at first, Sumlin starts talking and her plans spill out: Arizona State 
University in the fall. Maybe a class this summer to start. She wants to be 
an attorney.

School officials are helping her apply for financial aid and promising a 

"I'm going to be somebody," she said.

She is determined, said Mary Michaelis, the school's student services 
coordinator. And, unlike many kids at Pappas, Sumlin is pushed by her 
mother, Velma Williams, to do well.

"She is too big on school, my mom is," Sumlin said. "She says I'm not going 
to drop out if she has anything to do with it."

Mom helps out

Williams has everything to do with it. She volunteers at the school and 
stops by regularly to check on her kids.

"I push my kids a little harder than most people push their kids so that 
they make something of their lives and not have to work a job like I'm 
working now," Williams said.

She works 40 to 50 hours for less than $300 a week, collecting bills for a 
telemarketing company.

She knows about unpaid bills. Her phone doesn't work because she spent the 
money on new shoes, stockings and a rented limousine for Pappas', and the 
girls', first prom.

They'll eat bologna for a week.

She is raising six kids. Her oldest, Chris, 21, is on his own in school in 
Seattle, with no government assistance and no child support. The kids have 
no contact with their fathers.

All the kids need new shoes. She'll buy two pairs this week, two the week 
after and two more after that.

"I have always taught them if you want something, you work for it," Williams 
said. "You don't expect the next person to hand it to you."

Pappas picks up the slack

Pappas is the only place her kids have had a chance to do well, she said. 
Now, no matter how often they move, they stay put at school - the same 
teachers, the same friends.

It is the one stable thing in their lives, their mother said.

Most schools require kids to live within attendance boundaries or get there 
on their own. Pappas buses travel hundreds of miles a day, picking up kids 
wherever they live.

Kids can eat, get clothes and even medical treatment there.

Pappas could lose $850,000, almost two-thirds of its annual budget, if 
Congress decides today to pull its federal funding.

Maricopa County Schools Superintendent Sandra Dowling said she'd come up 
with the money somehow rather than lose the school at Fifth Avenue and Van 
Buren Street.

Holding down the fort

Sumlin is in charge in her family's two-bedroom townhouse near 24th Street 
and McDowell Road until Mom gets off work, sometimes 8 or 9 p.m.

In the long afternoons, she weaves complicated braids in her sisters' hair. 
They listen to music, singing along with Mariah Carey.

"We don't have any vocal skills," Sumlin said, laughing. "But we do it 

Michael, 9, the youngest and only boy at home, has hazel eyes and 
girlfriends in sixth and eighth grades. He wants to be a firefighter.

Report cards are out. The kids pass them proudly. Berry, a tubby Basset 
hound, rolls belly up.

Sumlin cooks for the kids, often making spaghetti or chicken and 

She hopes her family stays put awhile, though she plans to live in a 
dormitory at ASU.

Sumlin is nervous about going to college but said, "I think I'll be all 
right as long as I can come home and visit."

No matter where home may be.

Reach the reporter at karina.bland@arizonarepublic.com or (602) 444-8614.


**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this
material is distributed without charge or profit to
those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving
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-------End of forward-------

Morgan <morganbrown@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA

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