SIUE East St. Louis Charter High School’s Track Team Helps Athletes Become Better Students
When Jalen Paraham first came to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville East St. Louis Charter High School (CHS), the 16-year-old had running on his mind. He also wanted to keep far away from CHS athletic instructor and social worker Shawn Roundtree.
“He was always telling me to tuck in my shirt,” said Paraham, “and he was always telling me what to do.”
It is important to have a student-athlete approach, according to Roundtree, who formed the CHS track team in 2015. “Athletics adds discipline and responsibility to students’ education,” said the track coach. “Track was the easiest sport to start at the Charter High School, because it did not require us to add any facilities.” CHS is located at the East St. Louis Higher Education Campus, which currently does not have a gymnasium or track.
“We practice behind the Charter High School and at the track at Lincoln Middle School in East St. Louis,” explained Roundtree.
In its inaugural year, the CHS track team saw success. CHS student DeMarco Neal placed first and second in the Carlinville Region in the 200-meter and qualified for the State Track Finals. DeMarco went on to compete at state in the 200-meter run. Last year, Paraham qualified for the 100-meter dash at the State Qualifier in Charleston.
“It was an eye opener,” said Paraham. “I enjoyed it, but I could see I had work to do to get better. My personal best is 11.4.”
“The Charter High School track team is in its third year, and we now have both a boys and a girls track team,” said Roundtree. Six CHS female students make up the girls team, and approximately 20 males are on the boys team.
What Roundtree would like to see happen next is access to better facilities. “We don’t have the proper facilities for training,” continued Roundtree. “When you look at the other schools we are up against and their facilities and equipment, this is one of the weakest links. Our students have natural talent, but they need the facilities and equipment to help make them better.”
Paraham said his years working with Roundtree and the CHS track team have made him a better student and person.
“By being on the track team, I’ve learned you have to focus,” he said. “Track has also helped me build character. I used to be a loner. I have learned how to communicate better with people.”
Photo: This is the third season for the SIUE East St. Louis Charter High School Track Team (boys and girls). Shown kneeling from L-R are CHS students Dwayne Stennis, Robyanna Fayne and Jalen Paraham and in back row from L-R are Kahn Keys, Roderick Olden, Kory Wilson, Coach Roundtree, Avontae Gully and Justin Miller.