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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Seventeen-year-old Kevin Davila an International Baccalaureate senior at Annapolis High, shakes his head when asked about the tall wall Donald Trump claims will be erected between the United States and Mexico to keep out immigrants if he's elected president.
The teen was born in Acapulco, Mexico.
His father immigrated to Maryland when Kevin was six months old. The teen remembers living in a one-room house with a dirt floor and sagging, bare brick walls. Everything — kitchen, bedroom, bathroom — was in that one small room.
"He came here to build a better life for us," said Kevin. "I came with my mother and brother when I was 2 years old."
Of the proposed barrier between the two countries, Kevin said, "The Trump Wall is an absurd idea. Most people will find other ways to go around."
Kevin and family members became naturalized citizens last year.
At Annapolis High, this athlete-scholar is one of the top sprinters on the Spring Track Team. He runs in the men's 200 and 400 meter, and 100, 200 and 400 relay races. On the cross country team, he ran 5K races, and participated in the 400 and 200 relay races, and the 500 meter and 300 meter races as a member of the indoor track team.
This year, he managed the varsity and junior varsity volleyball teams.
The first hour after the final school bell rings, Kevin usually sits down with one or more younger Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) students to tutor them in several subjects or he helps them with their homework. Then, for the next 2 1/2 hours, he practices with the Panthers track team. Afterward, Kevin often treks to a Chipotle restaurant where he works part time about 25 hours a week.
When the weather is good, he teams up with his older brother to provide landscaping or house painting services.
His track coach, Brian Brown, said Kevin is a hard working young man.
"He is liked by everyone for his kind spirit," Brown said.
Shanita Spencer, an AVID teacher, appreciates Kevin's wry humor and quiet demeanor in the classroom.
"He is the type of student who when he speaks, others listen and take note," Spencer said. "There are always those students we come to rely on to represent our organization, and Kevin almost from the moment he joined AVID has been one of those students. If we need to visit the middle schools for recruiting purposes, we just need to mention it to him and he organizes the upperclassmen and takes charge when we get there."
She noted he has a way of "engaging the younger students and really explaining the benefits of AVID."
Now in over 2,000 U.S. schools, AVID is a program that readies students for college by helping them develop needed skills to be successful. The skills the program emphasizes are teamwork, organization, critical thinking, writing and reading.
When planning begins for the annual Anne Arundel County Student Leadership Conference, Spencer said, "He is, of course, first on the list of possible presenters."
His graduation will create a huge void, she noted, yet "whatever institution he chooses to matriculate at will be exponentially enriched by his presence."
The rigorous International Baccalaureate magnet program in which he's enrolled, Kevin said, "takes time, but it expanded my horizon of learning. The leap to IB, the skills it provides you with, prepared me for college and for life."
Kevin has been accepted at several colleges and is still mulling which one to choose. Though he plans to major in economics, he hopes to be a walk on member of his selected school's track team.
His choice of major, Kevin said, is because he's interested in the way money is valued and how it works. He's considering a future in business law or economics.
Kevin's mother, Laura Davila, an independent home maintenance and painting contractor, lives in the Oxford Landing community.
Kevin's brother, 22-year-old Ruben Davila is a student at Anne Arundel Community College and works part-time as a handyman, landscaper and painter. Their sister, Fernanda Davila, 12, is a sixth grader at Bates Middle School.
The siblings' father, also Ruben Davila, a carpenter and house painter, resides in Eastport.
To relax or during downtime, Kevin loves to listen to the music of LL Cool J.
"I can relate to his music," the teen said. "It speaks the truth."
His biggest passion, Kevin said, is "improving myself as a person. To elevate myself from where I've been to where I want to be."
Information from: The Capital, http://www.capitalgazette.com/