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NOTICE: The Charter Vision project is dormant as of January 2008. This website is provided for archival purposes only.

Diversity in the School Zone

Ginger (Lake Superior High School) Originally published November 2003

We as humans should get T-shirts that read, “Diverse. Period.” For that is what we are: diverse.

We can’t help it. It’s been that way since the beginning of time. Enough of that, though. What I want to talk about is charter school student diversity. In most schools, we are the people who have been labeled as “Rejects, Losers, Freaks, and Unpopular.” We are the students who could not function normally in a “mainstream” hig school. We are diverse.

Most of the people who have come to our charter school in Rice Lake have led very rough lives. I am one of them. I transferred here from Two Harbors, where I could not concentrate, wanted to be outside, and daydreamed most of the day away. I was in a deep hole with no way out. I got into trouble, was put on probation, and failed school (never dropped out, just failed miserably). Then, with help from my parents, I discovered a tiny school in the middle of nowhere, originally called “PEAKS.” At first sight I wondered whether my parents had lost their minds. But knowing them and facing the alternative of dropping out of High School, “no” was not an option.

So two years ago, on September 4th, 2001. I started school at PEAKS. I wandered into the computer lab, scared and alone. I put on a face like I couldn’t care less what happened, and then I saw what was truly in front of me: Others. Just. Like. Me.

My second year, I began traveling back and forth over 20 miles to school from my home in Two Harbors to the newly named “Lake Superior High School.” I worked every day, Monday through Thursday, on the AEOA Headstart Bus for Gnesen. This experience taught me so much about myself, it is incredible. However, nothing taught me as much about myself as dealing and interacting with other people who have the same problems as me. The teachers here work with all eighty-five of us. They take all our woes and make us focus on our bigger goals, including graduation and college The teachers even go so far as to let some of us stay at their houses when we can’t make it to school for special events.

I hung around with more A.D.D. people then I can even imagine, and I loved the experience. It taught me about respecting all of the different people there are. It taught me to be unafraid of the diversity that so often I was hoping to avoid. Sure, not all of my journey through the years has been peachy, but coming here and understanding what others are going through and feeling is an experience and a skill I can never stop appreciating.

So: diverse? Oh, yes.

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