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Hawthorne freshman works to get classmates involved in school

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LINDSAY RUEBENS - lruebens@charlotteobserver.com
Tia Holmes, 14, is working to bring clubs to Hawthorne High so students can get more involved.

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  • Meet Tia Holmes

    School: Freshman at Hawthorne High.

    Dream job: Psychiatrist. She was inspired by the Harley Quinn character in “Batman” comic books.

    Interests: Violin, anime, reading, drawing (she’s studying anime-drawing online) and Asian cultures. She’d like to live in an Asian country someday.

    Favorite subject: Math. “It has reasoning behind it, and it’s more than just memorizing facts.”



Tia Holmes, a freshman at Hawthorne Academy of Health Sciences, wants to see her school flourish and her classmates take pride in their school.

Hawthorne, which has been an alternative school in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools system for students struggling with academics or behavior issues, is now becoming a health science magnet.

The 33 students in the freshman class are all health science students. One of them, Tia, 14, is working to bring extracurricular activities to the school to deepen students’ pride and excitement.

She began to think about it when her math teacher, Fyniss Nixon, told her to survey students and ask how the school could better serve them.

Nixon said Tia came to Hawthorne with very high math scores and had already mastered some of the topics she’d be covering in her class. To challenge her, Nixon has been giving her independent projects.

“She’s a great advocate for Hawthorne because she wants the school to grow,” said Principal Tonya Faison.

Nixon said Tia took initiative to do the entire project by herself. “I literally just proofed it for grammatical errors – and there were no errors.”

Tia set up a survey online, and 100 classmates took it during lunch on iPads the school provided. The results were overwhelming: Students wanted extracurricular activities.

Hawthorne doesn’t have a band or athletics. “Our school is definitely different, and we want something normal and fun,” Tia said.

After collecting the survey data, she made a presentation of it for Nixon. Those numbers are part of the discussion the school’s administration is having to decide how to integrate extracurricular activities in the schedule. Faison said several teachers have expressed interest in being club advisers.

The most popular requests were for a step team and athletics. Tia would like to see a book club, photography and something for video-game fans.

Music is also a big interest. Tia played snare drums in middle school, but she said she’s always wanted to play in an orchestra. She got a violin for Christmas and is teaching herself how to play. So far, she’s figured out “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”

Tia can be shy, and Nixon said she’s very kindhearted. “Despite her shyness, she’d rather help someone than watch them struggle,” she said.

Nixon and Faison said they see leadership potential in Tia, who, Nixon said, “is very self-motivated.”

Tia said she’s glad her survey project is bringing about positive change for Hawthorne. A lot of her peers don’t like school, she said, and she wants to change that.

“I like school. It’s there for you, it’s there for the students,” she said. “You should enjoy it while you’re here.”

Ruebens: 704-358-5294; Twitter: @lruebens
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