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Darien Gives Six Girls a Better Chance

Six girls from underprivileged communities are thrilled that A Better Chance Darien allows them the opportunity to attend Darien High School. ABC, a finalist in Santa's Wish List competition, provides a home during the school year for girls to come to Darien and receive an exceptional education.

"I wanted a more challenging school experience," said Nneoma Obieshi, who comes from Bridgeport. The other girls -- Anthia Diaz, Angelica Cortez, Niya Wright, Olaide Ajomagberin and Bettina Arkhurst  -- echoed her sentiments, and are happy to have better educational opportunities.

The girls live in a house on Brookside Road with resident directors Francis Janosco and Julie Parham. The house is owned by the First Congregational Church , which leases it to ABC for $1 per year.

"This gives me a chance to see a whole new side of life," said Niya, who is from East Orange, N.J.

The organization selects academically promising girls who work very hard just to get into the house. "The application process is very extensive. It's like applying for college," said Anthia. Once they are accepted, they have to maintain a 3.0 grade point average and become involved in afterschool activities like track, dance and other sports and clubs.

"Going from our public schools to Darien High School is a big adjustment. They're polar opposites," Angelica said. "Darien High School is bigger. The academics are more rigorous and challenging. It can be overwhelming at first, but you get used to it."

The students say that they find the new high school much better than their old ones. "The teachers are really supportive," Bettina said. "Comparing my social studies teacher from last year to the one I have this year, this year's is much better."

They also have host families in town who invite them over to dinner twice a month and help them adjust to their new life in town. Angelica calls the host families "a home away from home away from home."

The girls love living in town and being part of the house. They have bonding activities, chore schedules and live in close quarters, which makes it feel like a real home. They agreed that it can sometimes be weird to leave the house and go home for long breaks. Olaide said, "Sometimes you do begin to miss girls in house."

It's not too late to vote for A Better Chance to win Santa's Wish List. The girls are pumped that they made the final cut, and would use the money to enhance the program.

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