Let me start by saying that I attended an Alternative Learning Center instead of a regular high school for many of my high school years. This doesn’t mean that I am “stupid” or “dumb” or even a “bad kid.”
It just means that I chose a different route than most, a route that was better for me.
When people think of ALC, their first thought is usually that I’m a dropout or a bad kid that couldn’t finish high school, but that’s far from the truth. ALC was a second chance.
Like most kids, I struggled with high school. I struggled with the kids, the teachers, the bullies, the teaching style, and most importantly, I struggled with my mental health underneath it all. I made bad choices, I got into bad things, and I hung out with the wrong crowd.
But most importantly, my hidden struggle of mental health, self-love, and acceptance, made high school impossible.
I decided to make the decision to fix myself and fix my ways because I really did want to finish high school. I love learning and knew that if I wanted to get where I wanted to in life, the first stop was a high school diploma. So I joined an alternative learning center — a way for me to do this that better fit my mental health and my happiness.
Through ALC, I had the best experience in high school. I met amazing kids, all going down different paths, that had the same goal as me: to succeed. I made lifelong friends — people who wouldn’t judge me because I was different from them.
I had an amazing teacher who became a best friend to me. A teacher who was more than a teacher — she was a mentor, a friend, and most importantly, a believer in me. She didn’t look down on me for the choices I had made. She didn’t doubt who I was because I wasn’t taking the “normal” route or because I messed up. She believed in me, she understood me, and she loved me through it all.
She was there for me through my treatment, reminding me that this was just a bump in the road. She bonded with me over things that other kids thought weren’t “cool.” She helped me learn in a way that I could best learn and in a way that I enjoyed.
I learned to love school again. I learned to believe in myself. I found myself again. And I did it all with the support of those around me.
In high school, I felt like school limited me. I felt like school defined me. But in ALC, I learned that school doesn’t define me, my abilities, or my place in this world.
In the halls of the high school, I was just “that kid.” But in ALC, I was me. I was the one who could do everything I could dream of. I became the girl that people actually believed could go somewhere in life. I became me. Happier, healthier, smarter, and more self-loving and self-believing.
Because of ALC, I graduated high school. I graduated early and with a 3.14, a big improvement from the 1.4 GPA I had my freshman year. Because of ALC, I am now chasing my dreams. I’m going to college backed with the support of those who knew who I really was deep down.
School doesn’t define me. It doesn’t define my knowledge. It doesn’t define my abilities. It doesn’t define my strength or my personality.
So no, I didn’t take the “normal” route, but I took the best route that I could, and I am forever thankful.