- Hillside Middle School
2022 Graduates: Quitting Was Not an Option for Khanye' Greene-Little Found
Khanye’ Greene-Little could have quit. Sometimes he thought about quitting. Like last year, when he didn’t graduate.
“Like all my friends graduated. They were having open houses and I’m not,” he said. “That messed with my head. But my mom kept encouraging me, ‘You can do it, I know that you can.’”
He came back to Phoenix High School and completed his high school education with a year that included at least two stints on the honor roll.
“Those are real accomplishments that my mom can be proud of,” Greene-Little said. “I didn’t just graduate. I didn’t come here and just get by. I came here and got As. I really wanted to do something. I didn’t want to just give up.”
Greene-Little, 18, is the son of Corcelia Greene and Deemetrius Little. He attended Woodward School for Technology and Research, Milwood Elementary School, Hillside Middle School and Kalamazoo Central High School before moving to Phoenix.
K Central with its large classes and big groups of friends just didn’t work for Greene-Little, who said he has attention deficit issues. “There are 30 people in a class and a teacher can’t just focus on you. There was too much going on.”
Things hit bottom in his sophomore year — that’s when he made the switch to Phoenix.
“At Phoenix it’s just more focused on you. There are only 10-15 students in a class. And, the teachers here really break it down for you. When I first came here, they didn’t let me go home until I did my work.”
He felt a real connection to the staff, including English teacher Grace Nelson, Spanish teacher Scott Hunsinger, secretary Sue Valler, Principal Mark Hill, and security officer Terry Buchanan.
“The teachers would break the work down, like one-on-one. They’d teach everybody else then come to me personally and break it down — or after school they were making me understand it. They all just gave me the encouragement I needed,” he said.
That made a huge difference and he began to regain his academic footing — and even joined activities such as basketball and yearbook — but then came Covid and virtual learning.
He is not a virtual learner. He said he found it impossible to stare at a screen all day, and even when the school did offer help, he couldn’t find the motivation to attend.
“I was so close, but I wasn’t focused. If I would have just woke up on time — or if I would have come in when they offered help. If I would have been doing Saturday School. But I was just lazy and I regret that.”
He said he cried when he realized his friends would all be graduating — without him. He thought about quitting but his mom kept him going. He came back determined to finish.
Greene-Little plans to attend Kalamazoo Valley Community College and study business.
He said he knows there are people who didn’t think he’d ever graduate and he is glad to have proved them wrong. The key to success was finding the courage to make the right decision for himself.
“People might think Phoenix is a bad school or not as smart as other schools, but we have all the core classes. I think it’s the best school in Kalamazoo. Don’t be scared to come over here. When I came to Phoenix they welcomed me with open arms.
“Everybody needs help eventually in life. You can try to be the most independent person in the world but eventually you’re going to need help from somebody to do something. My main point is don’t be scared to make the change and find the help you need.”