Armando Anguiano-Escutia, 17, is on track to graduate from ACES High School in Everett this year. After falling behind on credits, he enrolled at the alternative school in the Mukilteo School District his sophomore year and found motivation to catch up. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Armando Anguiano-Escutia, 17, is on track to graduate from ACES High School in Everett this year. After falling behind on credits, he enrolled at the alternative school in the Mukilteo School District his sophomore year and found motivation to catch up. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Everett teen changed his attitude and is ready to graduate

Armando Anguiano-Escutia, an ACES High School senior, caught up on credits at alternative school.

EVERETT — Just a few years ago, Armando Anguiano-Escutia was on a different path.

He was failing classes and at risk of needing another year to graduate, if at all. That happens when you don’t turn in most of your assignments and homework for an entire school year or two.

“Freshman year I was, I guess, still in the eighth-grade mindset that grades didn’t matter,” he said.

He was confronted with the fact that he wasn’t on track to graduate by 2020 and could need another year. That was a catalyst for him to change.

“I knew I didn’t want to do that,” he said. “I wanted to graduate with my class.”

The 17-year-old said he knew he needed a change of friends and in school. For 10th grade, he enrolled at ACES High School, an alternative program in the Mukilteo School District, where he established productive habits, shed his devil-may-care attitude, caught up on credits and set himself up to graduate on time with his class this year.

Anguiano-Escutia lives with his mom and dad, older sister and younger brother. He is passing his classes, has a half-day schedule and was applying for work. For his achievements he was named the South Everett Mukilteo Rotary’s Student of the Month in January.

Question: What was the struggle with turning in assignments?

Answer: Them not being complete. The beginning of sophomore year I did struggle with that. If I didn’t finish them, I’d just leave them in my backpack. Then my grades started dropping and I was like, I can’t have a repeat of freshman year. I took everything out, I went to my teachers, stayed during lunch, focused. I wouldn’t skip (class) but I’d tell the teacher, ‘Hey, is it cool if I go to this classroom to catch up on work?’ I’d just do that until I caught up. That really helped a lot. … For math, for instance, I’d focus more on getting things right than getting more things done; I guess quality over quantity.

Q: What prompted you go to ACES?

A: I don’t know if you’ve heard this, but a shark doesn’t outgrow its environment. Unless you can change your mindset and all that, people who you’re around, then anything’s possible. Freshman year, I was surrounded by bad influences, I guess, and my mindset was ‘I’m not doing it. If I don’t get it done I’m not turning it in.’ I got better friends, and it helped me change, grow as a person.

Q: Why did that shift start at ACES?

A: Seeing the people around me. At Mariner, you don’t really see who’s the super senior, who’s not, who’s behind, who’s struggling. It’s more like everyone’s doing OK, everyone’s getting by. Coming here, it widened my view on things. I’m trying to get out of here as fast as I can, go to work, go to college.

Q: Now you’re on track to graduate this spring. How’s it feel now that you turned things around?

A: It feels really good honestly. … Not too long ago I was just talking to my dad, looking at my grades, and I just started breaking down. Dang, this is really happening, I’m really gonna graduate. From freshman year to being told there’s no way that I can graduate without failing a class, to I have a half day, I have more credits than most of my peers right now. It’s really satisfying knowing that I pulled myself out of a hole that I dug and (am) heading for a brighter future.

Q: What advice do you give your younger brother?

A: I tell him what my older sister told me. If you’re not going to finish it, or if it’s not finished on time and the teacher isn’t going to give you an extension, turn it in. Get partial credit. At least that way you’re not necessarily going to pass, but you won’t be failing as bad as if you didn’t turn it in.

Ben Watanabe: bwatanabe@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3037. Twitter: @benwatanabe.

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