A: It's really weird. I never thought of myself as looking like anyone famous, but I have had multiple people tell me I look like Russell Crowe.
Q: Your principal said you have come a long ways in a short time, that you were behind in credits when you enrolled at Mountain View (Marysville's alternative high school)? Tell me about your high school experience.
A: In eighth and ninth grade and early high school, I kind of lost interest in school. Some people said I would always be a D average or below average student. I flunked my eighth- and ninth-grade years and part of my 10th. I changed school districts and got a fresh start. I found this school and I worked really hard. Last year, I took four or five extra classes on top of my regular classes. I made up all the lost credits I had just by working really, really hard.
Q: Some students just give up when they fall behind? What prompted you to turn it around?
A: Frankly, I'm a debater. I'm an argumentative person. When someone tells me I will be below average, I have to prove them wrong. I turned it to motivation. It motivated me to prove everyone wrong.
Q: Did it happen overnight?
A: It was a process. There were times when I tried to get back on my feet with school work and would slip, mostly in my 10th-grade year. I realized if I didn't really work on passing school I wasn't going to graduate on time. That was my other big motivator, graduating on time.
Q: I understand you try to help new students by telling them about your experience.
A: I look back at it all the time. I tell them, 'You can't mess around when you start out.' This past couple of years would have been so much easier if I just did the work from the beginning. I just had to make it hard on myself.
Q: I'm told your hard work has paid off with a scholarship.
A: On (May 15), the Marysville Rotary Club had an awards night at (Marysville) Arts and Tech High School. We got all dressed up. They called us up one at a time and asked us to say what school we would be going to and our major. They called me up and said, 'We are pleased to award you $2,000.' It was great.
Q: So where are you going next year and what are you going to study?
A: I'm going to the Lake Washington Institute of Technology. I want to do precision machining and I want to get a manufacturing technology degree. I love working with metals. Some day, I'd like to work at Boeing.
Q: Did you get some kind of award for your technology skills?
A: For winter quarter, I was nominated for the district's CTE (Career and Technology Education) student of the quarter. I got to have lunch with the mayor and some other important people. ... Later, Miss Dawn (Bechtholdt, the school's principal) came into my classroom tearing up and said, 'One of our students has won (the Marysville School District's CTE student of the year award). I was shocked. I thought, 'This is so cool.' I almost teared up myself. I just look back and see the growth.
Q: Did you take precision machining at the Sno-Isle Tech Skills Center?
A: Yes. I took welding there last summer and I wanted to take it this year, but there weren't any spots. Someone suggested precision machining, saying it's all metal work. I found out they are a lot different. I didn't know what I was doing at first but I worked hard and I found out I enjoyed it even more.
Q: What's your favorite subject in school?
A: I have always liked science. I like learning about how things work and why things happen. I also like history.
Q: What was it about Mountain View that worked for you?
A: After I had caught up on all my classes, I thought about transferring to a bigger high school for my senior year. Then I thought it over and decided to stay because of the teachers here. They really know you on a personal level. There aren't very many teachers and they can have you for four years. That's what really made me stay. It was the teachers.
Q: What do you like to do away from school?
A: I'm a huge computer geek. ... I also like to skateboard. It takes a lot of practice. I can be metaphoric here because it's like life, you can fall, but you have to get back up. If you want to improve, you really do have to work at it.
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, firstname.lastname@example.org
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