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Back on the right track
by Garrett E. Valenzuela
Jan 09, 2014 | 795 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Carl Cole Johnson, a freshman at Sparks High School
Carl Cole Johnson, a freshman at Sparks High School

Sparks High School freshman Carl Cole Johnson has longed to step on the court as a Railroader and launch basketballs toward the rim. In fact, basketball was the driving force behind a massive academic turnaround in his first semester at Sparks High.

Cole Johnson was managing a grade point average below 1.0 just nine weeks into the first semester when he realized his passion for basketball would never be fulfilled with a low GPA. Cole Johnson relied on his teachers and a tutor in his AVID class, which is designed to have University of Nevada, Reno students aid youngsters in understanding the importance of academics, to bring his GPA two full points before semester finals.

“I really like AVID and my tutor,” Cole Johnson said. “W have a really good connection and he always helps me on my homework after we finish my work for the day in class. He has stayed after class and through lunch to help me with any questions I have for him.”

Although Cole Johnson was able to turn his GPA around, he was unable to compete in basketball for Sparks High this season.

“I had some problems at home and it all sort of crashed down when I found out I wasn’t going to be able to play. Then I didn’t want to do anything,” Cole Johnson said. “Then I told myself I wanted to keep working on (my academics) because I didn’t want to give up and I want to go to college. There was no point in me failing because the colleges are looking at you since freshman year.”

Cole Johnson’s grade–and attitude–turnaround earned him a Student of the Month nomination before the semester ended in December. He said he “didn’t believe it” when he was told about the honor, and he was hesitant to do any immediate celebrating after enduring finals week.

As Cole Johnson prepares for his second semester of high school he said he plans to keep working toward a higher GPA to propel him into college. Cole Johnson dreams of going to Duke University and he would like to study science and technology as an undergraduate. He has yet to determine the scientific field he will enter, but he said his ultimate goal is to “invent things.”

“I want to be the first one to make a desk that is all touch screen for all your work and it is for classrooms only,” Cole Johnson said. “Teachers can put it on a hard drive, plug it in and everything they need for classes is on there. Instead of using pencil and paper you use your fingers and hands for work.

“I have done a few science things in middle school with dissections and different things, but I don’t know a lot about the science classes here. I am looking forward to finding out what options I will have while I’m here.”

Outside of school Cole Johnson said he limits his activities to “keep out of trouble,” which he said has been allowing him to improve his grades.

“My attitude will get to me sometimes,” he said, “And if something is said to make me mad it is going to come out. I am learning to control it and staying inside is just the first step of me learning to control myself.”
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