I absolutely hated high school. I know that everybody says that at least once, but I said it every single day of my teen years. In fact, I still say it quite often since I graduated college. Now that I work part-time as a high school counselor, I often find myself saying, “Thank God I’m no longer a high school student.” Everybody can’t wait to complete high school; but I didn’t even want to finish it… I wanted to drop out.
The reason I didn’t is because great support came to me from people who I can never thank enough.
High school gave me a unique experience, to say the least. Whereas most people attend public, private or Catholic high schools, I attended an online high school program called Laurel Springs. For the record, Laurel Springs made it very clear to me that I should never refer to it as ‘homeschool.’ Being at an online high school carries a lot of responsibility that, to put it very simply, I didn’t feel prepared for. While I got good grades on the assignments I turned in, I did not actually turn a lot of them in. I was too busy fencing, hanging out with my friends, watching TV and all the other important things like that.
Needless to say, this became a problem rather quickly. I fell so far behind in school that I needed to continue all throughout the summer. I even completed some necessary last-minute freshman work during my sophomore year. About halfway through this second year of high school, I finished my freshman work, but fell behind as a sophomore. After that happened, my mother hired a tutor to help me complete my work on time.
When the tutor came over for the first time, I expected his eyes to bulge out of his head in disbelief at how far behind I was.
Instead, he informed my mother and I that he knew about the Laurel Springs program. Not only that, but he worked at a special school associated with them. At this school, students could take their laptops to do work. Several tutors stayed there to help anyone who needed it. About a month later, I enrolled in this school. I soon discovered that there were several kids who were even more behind than I was. That made me feel a little better, but not much.
Interestingly, this tutoring center was a component of an athletic training ground: the Junior Tennis Champions Center (JTCC). To clarify, they offered a specially designed tennis center made so that kids could essentially eat, sleep and breathe tennis without school being an obstacle. The students would arrive in the morning and work on schoolwork for two hours, then attend tennis practice for two hours, followed with school for another two hours. Finally, students ended the day with two more hours of tennis practice. I could enroll as a student at the school because I qualified as an athlete. But while I fenced, everyone else there played tennis. My schedule also differed slightly.
I would complete four straight hours of school and then take the train to the club where I practiced fencing.
I attended the JTCC school for two-and-a half years and managed to graduate high school, on time, due to the amazing tutors there. Not only did they work tirelessly to get me back on track to finish on time, but also convinced me what a terrible idea dropping out and not attending college was. While I can never thank them enough, I hope this is a good start. And so: Mark Santangelo, Hamzat Saba, Lateef Kadiku and Michael Scotty, thank you all so much. I couldn’t have made it through high school, much less into college, without all your help. I’m sorry I didn’t make it easy for you.