PROGRAM — Milwaukee Choice Program

From sixth to eighth grade I attended a very small private school called Victory Christian Academy (VCA). I absolutely loved it and I thrived in that school. However, when I graduated, I decided to attend a different high school. That school was a much larger school than VCA and needless to say, I was overwhelmed when I started attending it.

I struggled greatly during my freshman year of high school. I had difficulty finding friends and I felt like I didn’t belong. I had to deal with bullying, and even racism from students and staff. I instantly knew that it just wasn’t the right school for me. I had an advisor tell me that maybe I should just join the military since it was clear I wasn’t fit for the school. That really hurt me; it crushed me to hear someone who is supposed to help me get ready for college to say something like that to me.

During that year I became severely depressed and I stopped caring about myself. I gained weight, and I was already heavy-set. My grades plummeted and I ended the year with a 1.9 G.P.A. After my freshman year, I thought that school just wasn’t for me and I had no plans to ever go to college. I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes on my birthday following the end of my first year of high school.

“I was given a second chance and I am where I am today because of it.”

That is when I decided to go to a small school called El Puente High School. After just one year, my G.P.A went from a 1.9 to a 3.5. I felt comfortable in El Puente. The staff were so kind and genuinely wanted to help me succeed. I felt like I belonged in El Puente. Finally, in my senior year, I had a 4.0 GPA each semester of that year. I was accepted to 21 out of the 24 colleges that I applied to, earning over one million dollars in scholarships. This was all because my mother and I were given the choice to pick a school where I could be myself and thrive. I was given a second chance and I am where I am today because of it.

I believe that families of all incomes should be able to choose the right school for their children, not just be forced to attend the closest school. Many children thrive in a smaller environment and are more comfortable in smaller schools. Taking that option away can affect the child. I know from first-hand experience what going to a school that just isn’t for you can do to a kid. It can affect them in more ways than one. It can mess with their mental health and that is something we need to pay more attention to.

Parents should be able to send their kids to a school that will benefit them and allows them to thrive. It will be so much more worth it in the end, trust me.

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