CLEARWATER (FOX 13) - You never know what someone is made of until they truly are pushed to their limit; until they reach what seems like the point of no return.
Marquis Strickland, a Bayside High School senior, lived a story about just that. It starts out with life on the streets of Child's Park, which got him in trouble early on.
"I was the kind of kid that was defiant," he said, "I didn't want anyone tell me what to do."
Things didn't get easier when he was taken from his mom at just seven-years-old and put into foster care.
"When you're in foster care and a lot of different people who you don't know [are] coming and asking you a lot of different questions every day, you soon get tired of it," Marquis said, "and when you get tired of it, you have to come off as disrespectful just to let them know you don't want to be messed with."
Marquis was more than disrespectful. He was angry.
He was back with his mom by 12, By 13, he'd been arrested more times than he could count — Twenty-five times in one year.
Until finally, it all came to a head with an eight-month sentence in a juvenile justice diversion program— something he now calls a blessing in disguise.
During his sentence, Marquis had a lot of time on his hands.
"What else can you do? Besides this big ole bookshelf right here," he said, "I'm gonna pick up one of them."
Marquis buried himself in books. He'd always loved to read.
"Reading takes me to a place that nobody can disturb me from," he told FOX 13.
Once he got out, it was time for a fresh start— and a new school. In what could possibly be the most fortunate twist of fate, he found a friendly, familiar face in the halls of Bayside High his freshman year: Mrs. Peck, his old middle school language arts teacher. His favorite teacher.
Marquis needed to tell her something.
"You're gonna make me cry," she said, sitting down next to him.
"You never went anywhere," Marquis told her, "You always told me, 'Marquis, you're better than this.' You were right."
She was tough, but he needed it.
She was also loving. He needed that too.
"We've been around and around many a time, many a time," Peck said, "He's been in my face and I've been in his," she said as Marquis laid his head down, smiling, remembering. "And yet, look what happened!" Peck said as she reached over and hugged him, "Just that whole balance and how it works."
Now, at 17, he's set to graduate early.
He got a score of 25 on the ACT — the second highest in the entire school. He gives credit to the teacher who saw something in him.
Telling his story, Marquis’ tone alternated between regret and resolve. But one thing he always comes back to is pride.
"It's hard not to be proud of yourself when everybody else knows you for being bad," he said smiling, "I can't even walk in my old neighborhood without someone saying, 'I'm proud of you, bro, keep it up."
And that's exactly why he's our Good Day Grad.