For a time, Irlando Goncalves wanted to be “that dude,” the guy who got attention in school for all the wrong reasons.
He and his family lived on Hendry Street in Dorchester’s Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood, a place thick with the pitfalls and snares of urban environs. He was skipping class, clowning around, mouthing off, and getting suspended, barely squeaking through middle school, which educators say is one of the last places to catch students before they fall too far behind or drop out.
Then, one day during the summer before his ninth-grade year, Goncalves decided to stop getting in trouble and “change people’s perspective of me.” It was a decision made with a clarity of focus that escapes most adults.
Now 18 years old, the senior at English High School has already won early admission to his top college choice — and with a full scholarship, no less — and is counting down the days until he can put high school in the rearview mirror.
Of the 103 seniors who graduated from English High in 2011 — the most recent figures available — 55 percent went on to a four-year college, according to state figures.
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