By jeanne starmack
In the library at Girard High School, a quiet 13-year-old rose to her feet when her name was called.
Kacian Hamilton, a 9th-grader, was being summoned before the board of education at its Sept. 25 meeting, along with a select group of other students in the junior- and senior-high schools. The board would witness them accept their awards for scholarship, service, citizenship, improvement and the principal’s award.
Kacian was being honored for improvement.
“Mr. [principal William] Ryser said my grades had improved,” she said last week as she sat with her father, Ian, in the library not far from the spot where she’d accepted her award.
She had some struggles in math and science when she started in the Girard schools last October, she said. “But now, all her grades are A-pluses except for science, which is a B.
Not bad at all, Ian assured her. Science can be hard.
Not bad at all too, considering Kacian was adjusting to life in another country as well as in different schools.
She, her father and a younger brother are from Jamaica. Ian moved here from a small town called Maypen-Clarendon in 2009, he said, after he visited a cousin in Cleveland in 2008.
He eventually moved to Girard after finding employment there.
“I’d been hearing about Girard and their good schools,” he said.
He left behind a brother, sister and several nieces and nephews, and arranged for Kacian and her brother Kavoun, 8, to join him. They did in 2012. “The kids were very excited,” he said.
In Jamaica, “everyone wants to come to America,” he said.
“Someone like a tourist is fascinated by Jamaica,” he said, but he was used to it. “I lived there all my life,” he said.
Work pays much better in the United States, he continued, because the U.S. dollar is much stronger than Jamaica’s.
There is a trade-off — “Anywhere in Jamaica you go, you’re close to the beach,” he acknowledged.
Doesn’t he miss that?”
“Yes, I do,” he answered, laughing.
Kacian misses Jamaica — “only at winter time,” she said.
School is, however, “much easier here than down there,” she said.
“We have things here you don’t have there,” she said. “There, you don’t have a library, and you don’t have lockers.”
Her school in Girard is much bigger, she said. “And you have great technology to do your work.”
She does miss her friends in Jamaica, but she gets to talk to them once in a while.
It was easy to make friends in Girard. “Everyone is really friendly,” she said.
She’s hoping to become a chiropractor, an obstetrician or a pediatrician, and she’d like to own a business renting properties as well.
She’s already hearing from colleges about coming to visit, and she’s concentrating on her life here in the states.
She and her brother do get homesick sometimes, Ian said.
“They keep asking me: ‘Where’s the closest beach?’”