I had a bell where I could work with special ed teachers and other students with learning disabilities. I remember being overwhelmed by the independence of some of those special ed students around me. I thought to myself, it would be so cool to be one of those independent senior girls about to graduate from this elite private high school and go to college. At the time I was convinced I would never be one of those girls.
High school was a big adjustment even though I had a bell where I worked with LD teachers, I had extended time on tests, and other accommodations. It wasn't until my LD teachers demanded that I use my Springer strategies to help me succeed at school, that something clicked and I started using all of the strategies I used at Springer, adapting them to work for my new classes.
Before long, I was one of those independent LD students. I didn’t have to check in every day or show someone my plan book. I filled out my plan book on my own, I kept track of my work, and I turned in assignments on time. I was getting the hang of the whole school thing.
Don't make me laugh! The point is, I was becoming independent and I was able to advocate for myself. Saying school is hard is an understatement. School felt impossible most of the time. I spent most of my “free” time, doing homework, studying, or at dance practice. Dance was the only place I felt like I could keep my head above water.
Dance gave me joy. When I started my freshman year, my high school didn’t have a dance team. With the help of my mom, I recruited new friends, a teacher to be an admin, a coach, a practice space that wasn’t at the high school because the gym was saved for their sports teams. Teachers and classmates looked forward to our performances at pep rallies and sporting games. The fact that I started a dance team that was bringing everyone joy, was something that made me feel like I was adding value.
I got to school early every day, mainly because I wanted a good parking spot, and I used that time to prepare for the day ahead. I spent most lunch periods either catching up on work or trying to just keep up with the material. I also spent at least 45 minutes after school working with the LD teachers or independently doing homework. Most days, they told me and my friend to close the door on our way out (that was how it locked).
At an awards ceremony at the end of freshman year, seniors received awards like valedictorian, salutatorian, top honors, and the list goes on. As I sat at that assembly I asked myself what award, if any, could I receive when it is my turn for the awards ceremony senior year? I remember so vividly sitting on the blue bleachers in the gym thinking, "Not that one, not that one, not that one," and the list goes on. Then, I heard the only award that seemed within reach: Perfect Attendance. I didn't have to be top of my class, I didn't have to turn in all of my assignments, all I had to do was show up.
When it was time for my awards ceremony senior year, I ended up getting 2 awards. I received the perfect attendance award. The other award was a brand new award created just for me, The Courage, Perseverance, and Optimism award. It was an award created by the principal at the time and given to a student that demonstrated those characteristics.
High school was hard. And I loved it. And I would do it again. It was so WORTH IT.