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Destination Success students beautify campus

By Carolina Astrain
April 5, 2014 at 12:02 a.m.
Updated April 5, 2014 at 11:06 p.m.

Destination Success Executive Director Willie Pickens pours mulch down as part of a landscaping beautification project at Patti Welder Middle School.

Matthew Rivera, 15, watched as mulch was poured into a flower bed outside Patti Welder Middle School.

Matthew, a sophomore at Victoria West High School, was there as part of Destination Success - a program dedicated to easing the transition between middle school and high school.

"Once a month, we talk about whatever issues we have going on," Matthew said. "It has helped me learn how one person can change a whole community."

Willie Pickens, director of Destination Success, said last year Patti Welder students planted flowers outside Hopkins Elementary School, a Patti Welder feeder school, and this year, they voted to beautify their own campus.

"The biggest thing here is teamwork," Pickens said. "We're not only giving back to the community; we're showing these kids how to work together."

For participating in the project, the students were taken on a trip to the Downtown Aquarium in Houston, Pickens said.

Olivia Rivera, Matthew's stepmother and teacher at Patti Welder, said since Matthew has been part of the program, her connection to him has grown stronger.

"He calls me 'Mom,'" Rivera, 49, said. "But he also recognizes that he has his biological mother as well."

Rivera, who teaches English, said the interactions Matthew has had with other students in the program have not only helped his social skills but his academic performance as well.

"He's more focused," Rivera said. "He's grown up a lot and knows what he wants to do when he's older."

Matthew said he'd like to become an architectural designer.

"I want to be somebody that owns their own business," Matthew said.

A cool breeze hit his face before a light rain fell over the newly planted flowers.

"It worked out perfectly," Matthew said.



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