Many people in America have at least attended high school. Whether it be a public high school or a private high school. Not many people have attended an alternative high school. I was one of those students who went to the alternative high school, known as Castleton, in my hometown of Oceanside, New York. A one hallway school located on the third floor of the district's kindergarten center. Castleton has no more than 60 students at a time and they all range from freshmen to seniors. The three years I spent there were three of the best years of my life. Castleton helped me overcome my anxiety, and helped me control my emotions through not only classroom lessons but life lessons as well. The bonds I made with the students and faculty will last with me forever.
In my freshman year of high school, I was not the best student. I had a reputation for lashing out at my teachers as well as classmates. I struggled with anxiety, and even at one point depression. Over the course of the school year I was constantly called into the Deans office, which was never fun for any student. Around the month of April, my anxiety got increasingly worse. I started acting out more and was even suspended from school multiple times. Eventually, after too many outbursts I was no longer permitted to take the New York State Regents Exams in school, I was now required to take them with a tutor in a separate location. The school year ended and my status as a student was in limbo. My last chance was to attend Castleton.
During the summer in between my freshman, and sophomore years of high school I was scheduled to have an interview with the principal, and some faculty members of the alternative school. I went to the meeting, angry, and not willing to give anyone the time of day. I sat with my head down as my dad answered questions that were meant for me. I eventually got up and left the meeting before it was even over. I was accepted into the school with what my teachers said was one of the most memorable interviews they have ever had.
Sophomore year began the same way my freshman year ended, terribly. I felt as if I did not fit in, and I felt like no one liked me very much, which in a small school is very hard to deal with because you cannot really avoid anyone. There is always one person that comes to mind when I think about how I did not get along with some of my fellow students at first. My good friend Nick and I always butted heads. Eventually, though I started to make friends with everyone, including Nick. In fact, most of the people who were at Castleton my sophomore year became my closest friends. Not only was I able to make strong connections with the students, I also made everlasting bonds with my teachers as well. Thanks to the very small class sizes at Castleton the teachers were able to take the time to actually get to know you. They gave all of us not only school lessons, but life lessons. They did not just teach us how to do equations, or write essays, they taught us how to believe in ourselves, to do what makes us happy, and to never let anyone tell us what we can, and cannot do.
My Junior and Senior years at Castleton were two of the best years of my young life. The only rough point I remember was when our beloved science teacher, Mr. Wrobel, tragically passed away in September of my junior year. This tragedy brought all of us together and made us all closer with one another. We held our heads high and kept pushing forward towards our goals. That is what Mr. Wrobel would’ve wanted us all to do. After that experience, I took it upon myself to better manage my anxiety and use all of the resources at my disposal to reach my goals in life. Junior year ended and senior year went off without a hitch. I honestly do not even remember any important moments or significant events that occurred during my final year at Castleton. Maybe it is because compared to the other two years nothing big really happened.
Thanks to Castleton, and the alternative school experience, I was able to overcome the things that plagued my freshman year and graduated knowing that I can accomplish my goals as long as I work hard, and I always ask for help when I need it. Because of the close comradery I had with not only my fellow students but also the faculty members, I felt my anxiety all but disappear. I can never thank the people of Castleton enough for what they have done for me over the course of my life.