My name is Donise Griffin. I am a 13-year-old seventh grader at Pittsburgh Colfax K-8. I have attended the Pittsburgh Gifted Center since the middle of my sixth-grade year. I am very artistic and creative. I like anything that I can get my hands on. I love to read and write because both let your imagination run wild, opening up doors that may not be possible in the real world. I also love math because I love to be proven right. I’ve never had a bad view on learning.

The gifted center has given me extra opportunities, so I can further understand what I can do with my life after school. I’m now thinking about becoming an architect because I could make my ideas come to life, and I can even use math to prove that my designs are stable.

What I don’t like about the gifted center is that there aren’t many students who look like me.

The range of students is not all that different. True, there are other races and ethnicities, but there’s not that many. The majority of the students are white. I am the only black student in the seventh grade who goes to the gifted center from my school.

TraOnna Malloy (left), 14, and Donise Griffin, 13, are both considered “gifted” by Pittsburgh Public Schools. Few of the district’s black girls have that same opportunity. (Photo by Guy Wathen/PublicSource)

Now I don’t know about the other schools, but it is noticeable when there is only one black female in each of the sixth, seventh and eighth grades in the lunchroom. And yes, I feel out of place! It’s kind of weird how there are no black males who go to the gifted center. I know some who got tested, but why is there not one? There may have been some in the past, but there sure are not any now — at least that’s what I see.

I also really hate how when I feel like I’m fitting in or trying to be normal around the other kids, racist or sexist things always come out. Just because I am a lighter shade of brown, they forget that I am a black female, or, even worse, point it out. They say things like “not to be racist,” “even though you’re a girl” or “no offense.” So I’m supposed to be like, “OK, you get a racist pass; you get a sexist pass.” NO! It still means what it means. The teachers don’t treat me different, but the feeling is still there.

Lastly, I think all parents should know about the Pittsburgh Gifted Center, not just the ones who request testing. Many parents don’t know. If they did, our whole society would likely become more advanced. I do believe gifted is a wonderful program, but I wish it could be more widely spread to all different kinds of students in the school — and maybe even enforced, if it was up to me.

Donise Griffin is in seventh grade at Pittsburgh Colfax K-8. She is interested in science and has attended programs at Carnegie Mellon University. She has gone to multiple classes for crafts and drawing. She has played basketball and softball, even though she doesn’t think she is good at either.