It doesn’t take a lot to show students that there are adults in their life who truly care about how they are feeling and are eager to see them achieve. And it can change someone’s life. That’s the case with Alicia G., 18, who just graduated from FLEX High in Columbus.

Her mother left when she was young, and was being raised by her father and grandmother, but they both died when she was in elementary school. Alicia and her sister bounced around to unstable relatives and friends. “Everywhere I went was such a bad environment that it made me very depressed,” she explained. “I was so uncomfortable in the places I was staying I could never sleep at home, so I always slept at school and just stopped caring.”

Alicia didn’t like her previous high school and felt a lot of pressure in her already-chaotic life. A friend told her that at FLEX she could go at her own pace and even graduate early, which very much appealed to her. At FLEX, she immediately felt the support from all the teachers and counselors.

“My teachers made school fun and relaxing. School was a good place to do work or even just to take a break from life,” she said. “Every teacher and staff member made a difference to me. They all helped — even when I wasn’t their student or if they just said hi and asked how I was. It showed they cared.”

As soon as she walked in the door, the staff made her feel comfortable being at school and eventually, she was able to talk to them about what she’s been through. “I was able to tell my teachers about anything that was troubling me, and they would never judge me,” said Alicia. “They were always so supportive about everything and taught me that home lives aren’t always easy. It made it easier for me to deal with some of my trauma because I had someone I could talk to and who would always be there for me.”

Our flexible schedule allowed her to do much of her schoolwork from home so she could be with her little sister and she had time to take classes to earn her State Tested Nursing Assistant (STNA). Alicia’s principal describes her as a solid student leader and very driven. Despite the challenges of remote learning due to the pandemic, Alicia graduated a year early and is eagerly working to become a nurse. “My future holds a lot, but I just don’t know all of it yet,” she says. “If I had not found FLEX, I probably would have dropped out of high school.”

Written By:
Ann Abajian