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Bridges High School, Carbondale, Colorado

I was a freshman in high school learning the ropes and trying to stay caught up. I was playing soccer with the school, I was doing an okay job getting my work done, and overall I was keeping normal grades.

Then around the end of the soccer season, grades were just about due and everything was wrapping up. I had struggled with school and staying on top of work once before, so I understood that you need good grades to play.

During the last few games of the season my workload started piling up while I was still attending practice and out-of-town games. I started slowly falling behind, 1 assignment went missing, then 2, then 3. I began getting Cs, and became a person who barely passed.

I let the work get to me. I let my head get to me. I replayed the same thoughts, “I won’t be okay and I won’t have time to fix things.” I stressed out, and found alternatives to keep me level headed and detach from everything.

At one point, I stopped caring about my grades and about playing because the season was just a few weeks shy of ending. Surely with my grades dropping I would not be able to go back, so I stopped going to classes that failed me. I found no point in even being there if I was going to get the same results, even if I passed the final. I started getting upset, stopped attending, and didn’t get along with the teachers.

I knew I could do the work but gave no effort after seeing how many credits I was missing and seeing the teacher comments.

I let the grades define who I was as a person. I saw myself as someone who failed at school and was just waiting to drop out and be a lost cause. I stuck with this idea. I let it shape me and hold me back from what I was truly able to do.

Things changed the moment I came to Bridges. I had a new curriculum, new people, and a new environment that focused on students' needs. It wasn’t quick, but I finally felt relaxed. I felt hope and gained confidence in my ability to get everything done.

After all this time, I finally talked with someone who gave me a chance and genuinely listened. I looked at my credits and I got the talk I needed to hear. “We will not force you to attend. It is your choice whether you want to graduate or not.”

Those words stuck with me and taught me that I am in control of my outcomes. I decide what I do and what is said, because no one is forcing me to stay. No one will say anything, no one will bug you about stuff. It is solely your choice if you want to pass - and it is possible.

These are the things I would hear, so everyday I would try to show up and get my work done. I was told I was just a step closer to my goal.

Having a rough start does not mean you should lose hope or that you can’t do anything about it. It doesn't mean there isn't someone there to help or listen. Just because people know your start and what happened, does not mean they will know how you finish.

I realized I am a strong learner, capable of many things if I dedicate myself to it. I realized I wasn't at the end of my road and there was still a light ahead of me to look forward to. I learned to be patient with myself, with others, and with the time it takes to accomplish things. There are many small things I took away from this, but one big thing was to not give up. If there's a will, there's a way.

© Zander. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team and we can put you in touch with the author’s teacher.


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