Lee's Summit R-7 School District
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In My Words – La’Ray McKinley (Our Schools Magazine: March 2021)

In My Words: La’Ray McKinley, a sophomore at Lee’s Summit North High School, read a Maya Angelou poem during the Feb. 17 LSR7 African American Read-in (watch the full program at lsr7.org/readin). La’Ray also plays basketball, performs with the step team, the Northside Steppers, and competes in track and field.

I decided to participate in the LSR7 African American Read-in because of my little sister. She loves poems, but unfortunately she is in middle school, so I did this for her.


I chose “Still I Rise” because Maya Angelou is a really talented writer. She’s really inspiring to young Black girls.


I think the value of this read-in is introducing students to more Black writers and authors and to really open their eyes.


The author I enjoy the most is Langston Hughes. When he came out at the time, there wasn’t really space for Black authors and creators, but he made his way and overcame those trials.


For Black authors, I would recommend Gwendolyn Brooks, Phillis Wheatley and Alice Walker. The message that they sent across was to just be a better human.


Of the Black authors I’ve read, a common theme is although we struggle and have hardships that we still find a way to move on, move past it, keep building up.


Voice means to me and my peers that we speak up about problems, about the trials and tribulations that we go through.


In the school district I think we need a more unique learning plan because not everybody learns the same. Some people have disabilities, some people just don’t feel motivated enough.


I think members of our generation can use our voices to make everyone feel included, like they mean something.


I hope my generation accomplishes goals set by the older generation, what they couldn’t accomplish, with the racial problems that are going on right now. I hope my generation doesn’t have that problem.


I chose the step team because we could be loud. We could say what we wanted, and people would listen. I want people to know that we’re here to stay, and we’re here to win when we cheer for the basketball team.


I want to be an athletic trainer, so I’m going to University of Missouri-Kansas City.


I want to be an athletic trainer because I enjoy sports, and I wanted to be a doctor and play sports at the same time. I figured I could cheer from the sidelines and be sort of a doctor while watching sports.