My name is Tamia Law. I go to Propel Andrew Street High School and I am in the 11th grade. I have lived in Clairton my whole life. It’s a community known for its great high school football team but also drugs, violence and vacant properties.

I used to go to Clairton Elementary School but I left in the second grade. I struggled with things like reading, and it was very hard for me there. My mom didn’t think the school had the resources I needed either, so she sent me to Propel McKeesport. It was so much different from Clairton. The students and teachers were just so nice. I loved it.

As I got older, I started to notice that people in Clairton don’t really see the community or the school. Nobody really cares unless it is football.

Maybe that’s why I couldn’t get the help I needed there. I wonder how many other students aren’t getting the help they need.

When I was at the Clairton school, the kids were so bad and teachers had a hard time actually teaching. They have to babysit more than teach. Some of the kids would fight the teachers and not do their work.

I was a good kid, and always tried to pay attention. Because I want to be something in life. I want to change the world. I want to be great. I hope to get a doctorate degree one day and be an FBI agent.

I have realized that there was a problem at Clairton when I left. I wouldn’t think it was bad if I didn’t experience anything different. It’s all relative.

Everyone in Clairton loves the Clairton Bears, including me. They are a really great team and, without them, the school wouldn’t be open. I feel like the team makes up the city. The thing I don’t like is that they get so much special treatment and recognition and that people don’t pay attention to the other kids who graduate to become doctors or lawyers. I just wonder what would those kids be without football? They seem to depend on football like it is their only way out. Like they have to play football to go to college and be something in life.

The city I live in is more like a neighborhood. Everyone knows everyone. Everyone is family. Somebody’s business is always getting out.

I wonder how many other students aren’t getting the help they need.

There is a lot of bad stuff that goes on in Clairton. Sometimes it does not seem that bad, but we have drugs and we have gun violence. It’s just that nobody really cares as long as our football team is looking good. I feel like we could have a way better community if we had money put into our city. Our community wasn’t always bad but I guess everyone feels like they’ve got to be in the streets because school is too hard or they don’t get enough attention like the football players. Perhaps they think they have to be tough so nobody will mess with them.

There is a lot to be done to better Clairton and the kids who come out of there. Our city is getting some outside money and making improvements. A gas station is going to be built. I know that is going to help our community, but I feel like they also should rebuild the school to make it look better and put in a grocery store. Many people think Clairton is such a poor and horrible community, but it has potential to be so much better.

If we had a grocery store, people wouldn’t have to leave the community for such a basic need. If the school looked a little better and they could provide more opportunities to students, then maybe the kids would act differently. If parents got involved in school activities, maybe it wouldn’t be all about football. If the police actually got out of their cars to say, “Hi,” to people and have conversations, then maybe things would change.

Maybe things would get better.

Tamia Law is in 11th grade at Propel Andrew Street High School. A lifelong Clairton resident, she is looking into the Air Force Reserve or ROTC and hopes to become an FBI agent.