PLEASANTVILLE — Latrell Townsend doesn’t live in Pleasantville, but the teenager is all about its high school, where he is a senior.
“Everything is actually going pretty well. Nothing bad has actually happened in the community lately, which is good. That’s a good positive view for us,” he said during a recent interview after school.
The 17-year-old Latrell is Mr. Pleasantville. The Egg Harbor Township resident can spout off the records of the fall sports teams and knows who the players to watch in the upcoming winter season will be. He knows about current projects at the school and recently became involved in Student Council.
“I want to be there because I want to be someone that can help out the students, someone for the students to look up to, someone for other people to actually look at me and see a positive image,” Latrell said.
The son of the district’s athletic director, Latrell is putting much of his focus this fall on college, where he will study computer science. He quickly rattled off the colleges he has been accepted to: North Carolina A&T, Morgan State, Tuskegee, Lincoln University and Virginia Union.
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“Right now my No. 1 choice is Howard University, and I’m still waiting for their feedback,” he said.
Latrell is confident about his chances. He said he already spoke with an adviser from the historically black university who told him his GPA, SAT scores and application look good. He wrote his essay about becoming a computer scientist — “how that’s going to change society and how Howard’s Ph.D. program is going to excel me in how I’m going to help society.”
To his disappointment, an after-school club he was leading for students interested in computers was recently disbanded, he said.
“I don’t know why. I will have to ask and re-look into it,” Latrell said.
He was in the middle of guiding middle and high school students into putting together their own computer, designing the interior and software, and coding.
Despite the disappointment, he remained optimistic.
“I’ve always been positive,” Latrell said. “My dad always told me, ‘Don’t keep your head in the clouds, you got to make sure you push forward, look at the future, always look at it from a positive angle, never from a negative angle.’”
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On this day, Latrell sported a black hooded sweatshirt, his hair slightly long and worn in twists. Sitting up tall, Latrell spoke matter-of-factly about the success of the sports programs this year.
“Sports for Pleasantville has been phenomenal lately,” the basketball player said, his face stoic.
But his expression changed dramatically when he brought up Pleasantville’s basketball team. His mouth curled into an ear-to-ear grin, exposing two deep dimples.
“We’re going to be really good this year,” he said.