Education choice scholarship puts Florida student on the path to college, military

Yanique Dunkley and her children: JR and Mason (on the couch), Maleah and Myles on the floor. Each child receives a Florida Tax Credit Scholarship.

PLANTATION, Florida – There was no way William “JR” Moreland was taking AP Language and Composition as a junior, or so he thought. He heard it was hard, harder than Honors English, which he aced.

“The difference between honors (classes) and AP is completely night and day,” JR said. “You think it’s one step up. No. it’s completely night and day. There was no way I was going to do well in that class.”

But the teachers at Westminster Academy, a private PK-12 school in Fort Lauderdale, can be very persuasive. Despite his pleas to not take the course and, yes, he admitted, some begging, JR was told, “You’re absolutely doing it.”

And he absolutely did.

He aced it.

“That’s my greatest accomplishment in school,” he said.

JR, 17, graduated this spring in the top 10 of his class from Westminster, which he attended since sixth grade on a Florida Tax Credit Scholarship made possible by donations to Step Up For Students. Before that, JR attended Gateway Christian Academy in Fort Lauderdale on the FTC scholarship.

“I do understand that without the scholarship I wouldn’t be where I am,” JR said, “so I don’t take that for granted.”

JR, who lives with his family in Plantation, is headed to the University of Central Florida, where he will major in computer science. After that, he plans to enter the United States Army.

The Army recently resurrected its “Be All You Can Be” slogan. JR said the teachers and administrators at Westminster expect the same from the students.

“Even when you don’t see the potential in yourself, they see the potential in you. It just elevates you to want to do better,” JR said.

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BY Roger Mooney

Roger Mooney is the marketing communications manager for Step Up For Students. He joined the organization after a career as a sports and features writer for several Florida newspapers, including the Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times.