13-year-old North Lawndale twins head back to school

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Saturday, September 9, 2017
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A new chapter in the lives of 13-year-old twins growing up in one of Chicago's most violent neighborhoods.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A new chapter in the lives of 13-year-old twins growing up in one of Chicago's most violent neighborhoods.

Last month, we began following the West Side story of twins Floyd and Lloyd Russell. This week, like children across Chicago, the twins headed back to school.

The Russell twins are now in eighth grade at a Dvorak Elementary School in North Lawndale. They have attended the neighborhood turnaround school since kindergarten, which provides some stability.

There are challenges, too, as their single mother works to keep them on track.

With time ticking to the school bell, a quick prayer before hustling down the block to the elementary school, where neighborhood men greet the children.

Since the twins' dad died of pneumonia a year and a half ago, other men provide comfort.

"Since their father passed, I try to step up and do what I can, keep the boys in line. Education is really important in this family, so I'm just trying to help out wherever I can," said Roy Lockridge, the twins' brother-in-law.

This is the twins' last year at Dvorak, where more than 90 percent of the students are low-income, most are African-American.

The twins have short-term goals, such as graduating, and long-term ones.

"Go to high school, make my mom and family proud," said Floyd Russell.

CPS reports that 63 percent of African-American males graduated high school last year.

It's a path they're on, with the force of their mom, even if one of the twins is pushing back.

"He won't drop out....not in my house because it's not a choice, and he knows it's a must," said Lisa Russell, the twins' mother.

In 2011, CPS reported that only 43 percent of black males graduated from high school in Chicago. Now, they are leading the increase in graduation rates. Again, last year, 63 percent graduated.

Floyd and Lloyd are looking forward to graduating, but they have a whole school year before their eighth grade graduation.

It's all part of Floyd and Lloyd's journey on the West Side.