EPISD Student Spotlight: Jalen Martin, Irvin High
(IRVIN HIGH SCHOOL -- Feb. 16, 2021) — Senior Rocket Jalen Martin feeds of the energy of the crowds whenever he’s on the field, so this year’s pandemic-related restrictions for crowds at football and basketball games made it difficult perform at the highest level. Nevertheless, the standout athlete and student helped his football team win a district co-championship by staying focused and thinking of life after COVID. As graduation nears, Jalen hopes to attend a Historically Black College or University to major in art and communication. Community Engagement sat down with Jalen as part of our ongoing EPISD Student Spotlight series.
EPISD: How are you staying motivated and involved in school during the pandemic?
JALEN MARTIN: I’ve stayed motivated and involved in school during the pandemic through football and basketball, NHS, and Key Club. During football season there were ups and downs, but being co-district champions and going to playoffs was an experience that gave me extra motivation during the pandemic.
EPISD: What challenges have you faced as a result of the pandemic and how have you overcome them?
JM: Visiting my grandfather in East Texas and spending time with my friends here in El Paso have been challenges for me. I am dealing with these challenges by using technology to connect with them.
EPISD: How has basketball and football changed during the pandemic and why is it important to continue to play during this time?
JM: The ultimate change for basketball and football during the pandemic is not having fans cheering us on from the stands. Although they are cheering via the computer screen, I miss seeing my parents cheering for me from the stands. It is important to continue playing during the pandemic because it gives the student athletes some sense of normalcy. When we could not practice football, our coaches made sure we continued reviewing plays and strategies virtually. Yes, COVID-19 made playing football difficult. But we did not let this stop us. What did we do? That's right, we “rose and soared.” We became co-district champs with seven players receiving individual district honors. I am one of those seven (first-team wide receiver). After football season came to an end, I joined the basketball practices. Just like football, when we can’t practice basketball, our coaches connect with us virtually.
EPISD: How are you staying involved in organizations such as Key Club and National Honor Society during the pandemic?
JM: I’m staying connected virtually with the NHS and Key Club. Our Key Club baked cookies together virtually. Our Key Club also had the opportunity to sponsor a drive-through toy drive in December.
EPISD: What are your honors and achievements in high school?
JM: I’m currently in top 10 percent of class, enrolled in Rocket New Tech, member of the National Honor Society and member of the Key Club. I’ve received the Citizenship Awards, lettered in football (2-yrs) and basketball (3-yrs), earned All-District Academic Awards for both basketball & football and was named 1st Team All-District Wide Receiver (2020-2021). I was the winner of the 2020 MLK Writing Contest.
EPISD: What activities are you involved in outside of school?
JM: I am active in my church and the community. At my church, the Gospel Service at Fort Bliss, I am a member of the media ministry, the usher ministry, the announcement ministry, and Sunday School. I am a three-year member of the College Admissions Process (CAP) program, sponsored by the Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc. This program focuses on college preparation and community involvement.
EPISD: What are you doing to bring a sense of normalcy to school during the pandemic?
JM: To bring a sense of normalcy to school during the pandemic, I attend all my classes each day, connect to the virtual NHS and Key Club meetings. I never missed a football practice or game. I am now attending all basketball practices and games.
EPISD: Where do you plan to go to college and what do you plan to study?
JM: I plan to attend one of the Historically Black Colleges or Universities and major in Arts and Communications. I want to work in the NFL Film Production and eventually expand to the film industry.
EPISD: How has being in New Tech helped you prepare for college and beyond?
JM: The enriched New Tech curriculum has prepared me for college. The critical thinking and collaboration skills I have gained in New Tech will benefit me in college and beyond.
EPISD: What is the first thing you plan to do when the pandemic is over?
JM: I plan to go visit my grandfather in East Texas.
EPISD: Anything you’d like to add?
JM: Although COVID-19 consumed much of my junior and senior years at Irvin, the faculty and staff still found ways to make sure students learned. No doubt, the online learning environment is challenging. However, at Irvin, we do what is natural for a rocket. We rise and soar! I am proud to be a Rocket!