Domonique Griffin attended several different schools before arriving at Park for ninth grade. And at first, she wondered what she had gotten herself into.
“I was thinking, ‘If I had just gone to public school, this would have been so much easier,’” she recalls, laughing.
Four years later, as a graduating senior, Griffin
sees the rewards of her efforts. She is off this fall to Trinity College, a liberal arts college in Connecticut. She hasn’t yet decided what to major in, but she knows that English courses will be in the mix.
“I’ve learned life lessons from English classes that I didn’t necessarily take from other classes: reading a book, getting the chance to dissect it in class, and to find meaning in it for yourself. I’ll be a stronger student when I go to college because of the English courses I took here at Park,” she says.
Griffin credits Kerry Reynolds and Charles Hartney, two of her English teachers, with exposing her to outstanding works of literature. Her favorite was Invisible Man
by Ralph Ellison.
“I think it’s the best book I’ve ever read,” she says. “It is a really deep book that brought up so many different issues of race, power, and the issue of identity.
“We talked in class about the difference between being a white person and how you can be an individual but you don’t necessarily represent your entire race, as opposed to being a black person, where whatever move he made somehow reflected upon his entire race. It was a really powerful book.”
Griffin has a special relationship with Reynolds, who has been a close adviser and friend in addition to teaching English.
“Ms. Reynolds has helped me with school work. She’s taken me to interviews. I can talk to her about issues here or issues out of school. No other teacher has gone out of their way to do things for me like she has.”
Griffin has two siblings at Park. Her brother Dorian is a rising junior and sister Deja will be a sophomore in the fall. Her family lives in the City of Buffalo and her parents both work for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority.
“My parents didn’t finish college, so there are things that they don't necessarily know. That’s again where Ms. Reynolds, coming from a different background, was able to help me: the college process – helping me with my essays and trying to narrow it down to what schools I should and shouldn’t apply to.”
Griffin says a major benefit from her four years at Park was the chance to be surrounded by a diverse student body. “Coming here expanded my views and exposed me to what the real world is like. When I was in city schools, the only kids who went there were black. There were very few Caucasian students.
“At my previous school, a lot of us identified with the same things because we had the same socio-economic status. We believed in the same things. We had the same religion. But coming here and meeting people from different backgrounds, people living in different places, believing in different ideas…. I learned to meet people who don’t look like me and know that in the real world everybody’s not going to look like me. I really appreciate that.”
Now, her energies are focused on the next chapter in her life, to be written at Trinity College.
“I went to visit Trinity in the spring and did an overnight stay,” she says. “It was really nice. I went to a public policy and law class and there were maybe 10 students in the class, so the classes are pretty small. It’s almost like another Park School.”