Tarrant High School student Corey Patrick was determined to graduate, even if it meant he had to wake up at 4:30 a.m. to catch a bus across town to a Birmingham, Alabama school.
Patrick attended Tarrant City School since the fourth grade but moved to the West End before his senior year and wanted to graduate with his friends. That required the early morning walks to the bus stop, followed by an hours long commute home every day after school, WBRC reports.
“Corey was getting up at 4:30 in the morning and had to be at the bus stop at 5:41 in the morning for the last year,” his mother, Felicia White, told the news site. “Even when he would get out of school he couldn’t get from that side of town until 5:19 when the bus runs back over there. So he doesn’t make it back this way until about 6:30 or 7 o’clock.”
The 2018 graduate was making his last trip in his graduation gown in late May when the bus driver snapped a photo and posted it online, prompting an outpouring of support for the determined teen.
The photo quickly went viral, and caught the attention of local radio host and comedian Rickey Smiley, who decided Patrick’s perseverance deserved special recognition. The 95.7 JAMZ host gifted the teen a $25,000 sport utility vehicle, the first vehicle the boy’s family has ever owned, WBRC reports.
“Little buddy wasn’t doing this trying to get no hype on the internet or trying to get no hype on the radio,” Smiley said, according to Yahoo! News. “He did it because he wanted his high school diploma.”
It is interesting how the media is trying to shape this narrative according to a utilitarian calculus. Close to ten percent of young people operate within this moral compass according to James Davison Hunter, author of The Death of Culture. He writes, “The utilitarian moral culture regards personal self-interest as the focal point for moral decision making” (p. 159). It is a measure of Corey’s character how hard he worked to dispel this narrative.
Patrick could barely speak he was so overwhelmed with emotion by the generous gift.
“I just would like to thank everybody,” he told WBRC.
Smiley said he hopes the gift will send a message to all the kids working through adversity to stay on the right track.
“Even if there is another kid who caught the bus every day that didn’t get a car, let this inspire you because your blessing is coming,” Smiley said.
Patrick is now working to get his driver’s license, with the help of Smiley, and will attend Jacksonville University on a full scholarship. A separate Go Fund Me page set up to help cover expenses has raised more than $20,000, double the initial goal of $10,000.
All teachers want their students to learn to be resilient and persevere through adversity and be purposeful in the way they spend their lives. Similarly, teachers want their students to make sacrifices to achieve worthy goals. Resilience, perseverance, being purposeful and making sacrifices for what is good are crucial building blocks for becoming a good and worthy person. The UK's The Jubilee Centre has an excellent resource for teacher use in its lesson plans for teaching resilience here.