One frightful day, I returned from ditching two classes, totally high. I was called into the vice-principal’s office. Mr. Eckland and I had met on many occasions but this time was different.
“Where were you for second and third period?” He asked staring straight into my eyes. “I was cleaning my kitchen.” I said and that was absolutely true.
My dad was suffering from some sort of clinical depression and our house was covered with stains, dry hot dog on the counter, vegetables dying in the fridge, and other expired food strewn all around the kitchen. The floor was filthy and even after two hours I still had not cleaned it enough.
Well, this didn’t go over well and I am pretty sure they administration became concerned about my home life. My dad was called in and Mrs. Merriman,the attendance officer, along with Mr.Eckland began to take a hard look at my academic profile.
A meeting was set with my father and me to meet with the two of them. Mrs. Merriman reviewed the facts with my dad that I was not going to graduate next year do to all the D’s and F’s I had in my classes since freshman year.I am sure my father was alarmed because a friend of mine was making fake report cards for me stating that I was receiving all A’s and that my attendance was excellent.
But the jig was up. Mrs. Merriman said I needed to leave Thousand Oaks High School and begin attending Conejo Valley Continuation High School. Now don’t get me wrong. I had plenty of friends at that school but I was honestly scared to attend. I imagined people forcing me to take PCP and classrooms out of control. The school had a reputation for troublemakers and I definitely had earned my spot there, however, I truly thought I was better than that school. It was unimaginable to me to that I would be kicked out of school at all!!!
First, I started brainstorming. I would take the GED. School would no longer be in the way of my social life if I chose that route. But several friends talked me out of taking the test and I was in utter panic.
Mrs. Merriman had put me on a probationary period and I still ditched class so she set up another meeting where I knew it was over.
The class I had ditched in the first place to clean my kitchen was a child learning class taught by Mrs. Williams. I did not like the teacher and she had no reason to like me. But Mrs. Williams noticed the day before the big meeting that I looked exceptionally distraught and she approached me.
I began to cry and told her the dreaded news. She listened and she said nothing judgmental. I thought this was a waste of my time until she said, “I have a plan.”
And her plan was the hardest undertaking of my life thus far.I was two grades behind in credits and I had only attended school 25 percent of the time. But she had far more experience than me and she began to teach me how to negotiate and persuade with concrete ideas and not tears.
I began to be hopeful. The plan was developed around a presentation on poster board showing what classes I would attend, before school and after school to make up the credits.Yet I wondered how I could ever actually accomplish this painstaking plan she and I set forward in order to graduate on time. I would see the next day if the plan would work or not. My presence at Thousand Oaks High School was wearing thin. Could I convince the administrators and my dad that I found a way to graduate?
We will see…