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Alexus Scores A Brighter Future

April 3, 2009

Her shorts, socks and leg pads are packed in her athletic duffle. She tucks her brush and hair band in a side pocket. The school day ahead promises to be hectic for this “A” student, and it won’t end with the final bell. A two-hour soccer practice brings her back to the house around six in the evening. After dinner and homework, Alexus pulls the covers over her head and falls to sleep after ten.

The 13-year-old North Carolina native has lived at BCH’s Oak Ranch for nearly a year. Alexus’ single-mom was deployed to Iraq and Alexus moved in with her godmother living in Fayetteville.

“Although I missed my mom,”remembered Alexus, “at the beginning, things were good.” Then over time, Alexus’ grades began to fall. She began to rebel, and soon her godmother was the focus of her angst. “I was so disrespectful!”

More bad choices and a stern ultimatum led to a visit to Oak Ranch.

“I had no choice,” she says. “We returned to my godmother’s home, I packed my bag and I came here (to Oak Ranch).

Alexus was angry at first. She was angry at her godmother, and she was angry at her mother and father for divorcing when she was in the fourth grade.

Surprising, she was also relieved. She felt that everything that was weighing her down was left behind.

Alexus began to talk about her anger. She focused on day-to-day life on the ranch. And she made progress, adjusted and began to succeed.

Before she came to Oak Ranch, her grades had bottomed out. But failing grades did not reflect who Alexus was, or the potential she had.

“I was able to work on my problems,” she says. “I made a big change. I worked on my grades and brought home straight As.”

She also found a refuge on the playing field. “I love sports!” she says emphatically. Alexus’ love for sports began when she was very little and sat with her dad watching football. She’s played organized softball since she was 10 years old. She plays basketball and has played team soccer for the past two years.

“Sports helps me get my head off my problems,” Alexus reveals. “But it is also fun. I find a balance in the game and with my teammates.”

BCH’s annual Olympics brings children from all of the institution’s statewide facilities to Mills Home in Thomasville for a day of sporting competition. Last summer Alexus was able to shine, winning seven medals.

“It was great,” she smiles. “There were people who came up telling me ‘great job.’ I felt very proud.”

Now that her mom is back from her tour of duty and Alexus is confident about her future, she is planning to go home. She understands her godmother’s reason for insisting on Oak Ranch. “She was a lifesaver. I am very grateful for my godmother. I love her.”

Alexus tries to be more open and honest. She believes “you have to be the real you” so people will know how to help. She is certain that she will remember the things she has learned once she returns to live with her mother.

“My mom asked me how I was going to apply what I’ve learned,” she says.

Speaking honestly, Alexus answered that she did not know fully. She told her mother that she would mess up, but now she will take the responsibility to “fix my mess and learn from my mistakes.”

“Now I know how to work through things and not get lost in my anger,” she confides. Alexus is determined to show her family that she is responsible. She sees the connection between her behavior and its effect on her future.

“I have worked hard,”she says. “I’m going home because I am doing better and I have met the goals I set. But I am leaving a lot of great people.”

Alexus believes there are good things ahead. She believes she will look back one day and remember all that Oak Ranch meant to her. She says there will be many great memories.