Beverly Gilbert doesn’t have to imagine. That was the reality she faced in April 2011.
She came home with her two sons, Ulysees III and Uriah, before a football practice to find a foreclosed sign in the yard of her house in Ocala. Since she wasn’t the person responsible for handling all of the household finances, she was unaware this was in the works.
“That was a real shock,” Beverly said.
Family belongings had been moved out of the house and into the yard. As a result, Beverly and her two children moved elsewhere in Ocala.
That year continued to be a rollercoaster ride.
In the summer of 2011, Beverly was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent a mastectomy on her left side that fall, and is now cancer-free. The day after Beverly’s surgery, her youngest son Uriah, underwent his own surgery. Years before, he had crashed into an oak tree while driving a four-wheeler. He fractured his head and broke his nose, requiring intensive care. He recovered, but needed surgery in 2011 to remove some debris from the incident embedded under his chin.
Changes continued for the Gilbert family as Beverly formally separated from her husband that September.
The only positive thing in her eldest son, Ulysees’ life, at the time, was his experience at Trinity Catholic High in Ocala which lent some stability during a very unpredictable chapter in his life. He was enrolled in the ninth grade and played football. He would take his little brother to games and practices. He made new friends there.
Because of the separation, Beverly, a second grade teacher in the public school system, was now confronted with how to pay for Ulysees’ education. She was able to work with the school to keep him enrolled.
“Trinity bent over backward to make it easy for him to stay there,” his mother said.
But she now was left with figuring out how to pay for Uriah’s tuition. She called herself the “New Poor in America,” meaning someone who works every day and has a decent job but can’t afford anything, such as a new car or replacement car parts.
She had applied for the Step Up Scholarship for Ulysees in the past, but said she was denied because her household income exceeded the qualifying guidelines. Ulysees completed 8th grade in public school and enrolled into Trinity for ninth grade, in the 2011-12 school year.
She decided to apply again for Step Up, but this time for Uriah. And she was met with success.
“It was a very emotional moment when they sent me the letter saying that he was approved,” she said.
Beverly enrolled Uriah at Trinity Catholic at the start of the 2012-13 school year with the help from the Step Up scholarship when he was in the eighth grade.
Uriah was at first reluctant to go to Trinity. He wanted to follow his friends into neighborhood high school.
But Beverly says he’s blended in quite well at the new school. He’s rising to meet the school’s rigid expectations, Beverly said. He went from being a B-C student in middle school to being an A-B-C student. Being in a college “prep school” allows students to spread their wings. She likes that it’s a close-knit school. Coaches have even had her children over to their homes for dinner.
Uriah likes playing football, and Trinity Catholic makes it clear that student athletes have to maintain good grades, Beverly said.
“He is Johnny-on-it,” as far as his schoolwork is concerned, his mother said.
Uriah’s coaches told him that if he worked hard enough, he could make the varsity team as a freshman. He did.
Associate head football coach Justin Wentworth said Uriah, who plays defensive tackle, is one of only three freshman on the varsity team and has played four varsity games. He said the head football coach expects players to maintain at least a 2.5 GPA to stay on the team. Practice doesn’t begin until 90 minutes after school ends to give students time for more assistance with academics.
“(Uriah) takes advantage of it and spends extra time with his teachers,” Wentworth said.
Every student is challenged when they enter Trinity Catholic, but Uriah has done a good a job at meeting academic standards, his coach said. Uriah is 6-foot-3, and brings both physical presence and knowledge to the field. Uriah, 14, and Ulysees, 16, play well together, too, the coach said.
“It feels pretty good to be recognized for all the hard work,” Uriah said.
About Trinity Catholic
Trinity Catholic High School is a private Catholic school in Ocala. The campus building opened its doors 2002, although it actually starting holding classes two years earlier in portables and in a middle school campus while the current campus was being built.
There are about 555 students enrolled at the school, 82 of whom are Step Up scholars. It accepts both Catholic and non-Catholic students. Its academic offerings include 22 honors courses, 19 AP courses and 11 dual enrollment courses. About 98 percent of students go on to a four-year college.
The school offers more than 40 activities, including sports, choir, Habitat for Humanity, Spanish and French Honor Society. The Campus Ministry offers daily prayer, class and school masses and the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Tuition for the 2013-14 school year is $8,900. Trinity Catholic is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. It uses the PSAT to measure academic success.