MONROE — After two and a half years at Monroe High School, Abril Delamora Gonzalez knew she needed a change.
She wasn’t connecting with her teachers, she said. Her anxiety made her dread going to school.
Midway through her junior year, she made the switch to Leaders in Learning High School, an alternative school that operates in portables on the MHS campus.
In the smaller setting, she was paired with an advisor who helped her get back on track.
Within a month, her grades had rebounded and her attendance was nearly perfect. She was quickly named student of the month.
Now a senior, Delamora Gonzalez, 18, looks back at her own experiences to find students who may need help fitting in to the program.
Q: When you came to Leaders in Learning, you struggled with attendance and grades, what motivated you to change that?
A: My mom was worried that I might not graduate. My anxiety was really bad. It got me to the point where I wouldn’t even want to come to school. I’d be like, “What’s the point? I’m just going to get all Fs. I don’t know want to do this anymore.” I’d get really depressed. Sometimes I wouldn’t understand what the teacher was saying for the homework. I’d go home and try it and have a mental breakdown. Somebody told me about this school and now, instead of having my usual grades, I have As and Bs. I still have anxiety but not as much. I’m more comfortable with the teachers here. They help me with personal problems and school problems. I like how the classes are smaller so I can get the one-on-one help, instead of classes with 30 other kids.
Q: Is there anyone at the school who’s helped you make that adjustment?
A: My teacher Tonya. She’s my math teacher and my advisory teacher. If I have a problem I can go to her because I trust her and I’m confident with her.
Q: I heard you like to help other new students. Do you think your experience has helped you relate to other kids who might be struggling in school.
A: Definitely. I have this one friend, I told her to come here and she did. (At Monroe High School) she was having a little trouble but now she’s doing OK, and I can help her with things when she needs it.
Q: How are you able to spot other students that might need help?
A: When I have anxiety, I pay attention to the things I do. Sometimes I play with my hair or shake my leg a lot or play with my hands. If I see that, I try to help them if I can.
Q: Do you have any advice for other students who get anxiety with schoolwork?
A: It gets hard sometimes, but I learned that I have to hang in there, deal with it for a moment and things will get better.
Q: Now that you’re doing so well in school, is there a particular subject that you like more than others?
A: I like to do art, but I kind of like math because I kind of get it. I like drawing, coloring and painting. I like to paint stuff with the colors of how I feel. I have a map of colors in my book. Red is for like when I’m angry. So whenever I draw something, I color the most of it with how I’m feeling.
Q: Have you thought about what you want to do after high school?
A: I really love animals. I want to work with animals. So maybe study to be a veterinarian or something like that.
Q: Is there a specific school or program you’re looking at?
A: I haven’t figured that part out yet.
Q: Do you have any other interests outside of school?
A: I like to spend time with my mom because she’s always been there for me. She never gave up on me when I was having a rough time in school. I like to do stuff with her like watch movies or go to the store.
Joey Thompson: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @byjoeythompson.
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