Column - Every student should shineWhen things are going well, it’s hard to believe there could be something missing. That may be one of the reasons an alternative public school doesn’t sit well with some people.
By: By Greta Petrich, Staff Reporter, Alexandria Echo Press
When things are going well, it’s hard to believe there could be something missing.
That may be one of the reasons an alternative public school doesn’t sit well with some people.
We have some outstanding public schools in this area – it’s easy to see based on test scores, awards and post-graduate success. Yet there are some surprising young people who have found another way to rise to the top.
I had the pleasure to meet Casey and Indigo – two students at Lakes Area Charter School in Osakis who have shed the “at risk” label and who are now looking at promising futures.
Indigo is a dynamic young woman who is only beginning to realize her potential. She bubbles over with excitement about “her” charter school, where it’s OK to fall, because if you simply ask, someone will help you up.
While in traditional public school, she feared people would realize her pain – she struggles with depression and anxiety. At this “other” public school, she’s able to honestly express her limitations without fear of retribution from the other students. It’s still a challenge to come to school each day, yet once she arrives she is able learn, surrounded by a support system of teachers, staff and new friends.
When he Googled “how to drop out of school” Casey felt shunned by public education. He didn’t want to quit, but he didn’t know what else to do. He knew school as a place where you get put in a not-so-special class and an Individualized Education Program (IEP) seemed like another label of being “not good enough.”
The charter school offered Casey a lifeline anchored securely to his future – one that’s now filled with goals of earning a degree in law enforcement followed by a career in the Navy, where he hopes to earn his aviation license, where the sky’s not the limit.
While I?didn’t get the pleasure of personally meeting Jago – the third student interviewed for my story – his classmates described him as a role model. When I shared that with him during our phone interview, he seemed surprised. I could hear pride in his voice when he said he hopes others can get the same opportunities he’s gotten at the charter school. He wants every teen to realize they have potential.
These children are used to labels, they are used to being judged and I admit that I too, judged them. I judged Casey as a self-confident young man who greeted me with a firm handshake while looking me in the eye. I judged Indigo to be an enthusiastic young lady, proud of who she is and unafraid to speak her mind.
If I had met them at their former public schools, I don’t believe I would share the same impression. They doubt they would have been chosen to visit the Capitol – the reason for my visit – or be interviewed for the local newspaper.
There are 71 other “diamonds in the rough” at this school. Each one is worth meeting. Each is filled with infinite potential. Each has found a place at Lakes Area Charter School, a place offering a future filled with possibility, a place where it’s OK to fall and it’s OK to get back up and try again.