“I only leave the house now to take out the garbage,” said Devonta Hymes from his home on Milwaukee’s north side. The Washington High School senior’s caution comes from an up close and personal view of COVID-19. While his immediate household—his father and youngest brother with whom he lives—remain healthy, Hymes’ grandmother and 35-year-old aunt are sick with the virus, his grandmother especially so.

“She was on life support,” Hymes said. “But we got a call the other day that she was doing better.”

Despite the shadow COVID-19 casts over Hymes’ family, on the phone he sounds upbeat and raring to go. He keeps a “Vision Board” at his house, a positive planning strategy he learned from his work with Milwaukee’s Running Rebels, a youth mentoring program founded by Victor Barnett in 1980.

“A Vision Board is a layout of how you want to see things develop. A dream board. You mark down goals like graduating from high school or just a little dream of meeting a celebrity or going to a concert. Anything.”

Hymes shares this practice and more with peers through a variety of leadership roles. He’s a Washington High School Ambassador, a student council member, a spokesperson for the Black and Latino Male Achievement Association and a youth leader with Running Rebels.

For a guy who isn’t going anyplace at the moment, Hymes appears to be going places.

PBS Wisconsin asked Hymes what it was like to finish high school from the confines of his room.

“I’m just trying to keep positive thoughts, and when it blows over, we’ll be back in action like never before,” she said. “I’m trying to tell myself that this is temporary, and it will pass.”

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