Morgan Maciel of San Antonio High School in Petaluma

It seems strange to finally be graduating. My dad had said to me freshman year, “High school goes by in the blink of an eye.” I was convinced it would take a lifetime. Here I am, sitting in fifth-period English trying to digest the fact that in two days, I’ll be done with high school forever!
This journey has been a little unusual because I jumped from school to school.
Going into my freshman year, I expected to play softball for Casa Grande High School, go to Casa’s prom and graduate from Casa, Casa this, Casa that. By sophomore year my “Casa plan of action” bubble had burst, and I no longer wanted to be a student at Casa. Let’s just say it wasn’t working out. So I transferred to Valley Oaks, the independent study school in Petaluma.
For the first few months at Valley Oaks, I did really well. My work was always in on time, and I attended all of my appointments. Then, about this time last year, I started slipping up and hanging out with the wrong crowd. I started getting into drugs and alcohol more frequently. I struggled with my school work but all motivation flew out the window. Once again, I didn’t care about what might happen as my stubborn attitude took control.
I begged the Valley Oaks principal, who also was principal of San Antonio High School, to transfer me to San Antonio. The lack of an everyday schedule was just getting me into trouble, and I was desperate to get out of that situation. In addition, I was refusing to do my homework and wouldn’t see it any other way. It took a lot of convincing but a couple weeks later I was enrolled at San Antonio.
I have been a student at San Antonio for a year, and it has been the best year of my high school life. Many people have negative opinions regarding continuation schools, which is understandable because you usually end up there for reasons that aren’t so appealing. The thing is, and I think I speak for many students here, San Antonio made graduating important to me! The staff was always pushy but supportive. The teachers were invested in helping you improve your grades so you could earn your credits. In addition, because it’s so much more personal than our traditional high schools, there is the opportunity to bond with the staff and get individual attention.
When I entered San Antonio, I was in a dysfunctional relationship and experimenting with hard drugs. My relationship with my parents was as challenging, as was my relationship with my close friends. Because of the support and understanding I received from San Antonio, I came out of my funk with a more positive attitude and outlook on life. I’m graduating almost a year early!
Most importantly, there’s nothing I would take back in the past three and a half years. I believe the events that have taken place have prepared me for what is coming. Reality is scary but exciting. It’s finally time to be an adult and take a place participating in what the rest of my life has to offer and what I have to offer to life. Ready or not, here I come!