How an alternative high school changed my life

Bay Area alternative high school

Imagine spending much of your school day dodging threats from bullies. Now imagine your teachers turning a blind eye and accusing you of sabotaging your education.

My name is Gabe and the time I spent attending traditional schools led me to lose trust in my teachers and view school (and learning) as something to dread. To say that I hated school would be an understatement.

The teachers were not equipped to teach students like me with ADHD and assumed that I wasn’t trying, even though I was. My ADHD causes me to learn differently.

“Before attending an alternative school, I associated school and learning with struggling.”

All of that shifted for me when I discovered Holden, an alternative high school located in Orinda, California. In June I graduated from Holden with academic confidence and a game plan for my life after high school.

What an alternative high school education means to me

In my experience, the main goal of a traditional model of education was to get me to memorize facts and figures so I could regurgitate information on a test. I never felt like I was seen or heard as an individual when I attended conventional schools.

The alternative high school I attended was a complete departure from the mainstream schools I’d been to before. Holden, is a small learning environment where each student is taught in a way that respects their individual learning style.

Alternative high school increased my confidence

Once I started attending Holden, the burden of worrying about how I would fit in academically lifted and I was more relaxed and confident. I opened up and it was much easier to socialize and make friends. My close relationships with the students and staff made it feel more like a family than a school.

Bay Area alternative high school

Students are treated as unique individuals

I have never felt so comfortable around adults. Ever. Before Holden, I did not view my teachers as people. To me, they were more like prison guards waiting to punish anyone who did not obey the rules.  

Holden teachers adapt the way they teach to meet the learning styles of each student, as opposed to the student adapting their way of learning to fit the school.  They also show genuine interest in student’s lives and in our progress outside of school.

My individual interests mattered

The class sizes were small enough for the teachers at Holden to really take the time to get to know me (and the other students) on an academic and personal level. I developed close relationships with my teachers and formed a special bond with Katie, my Chemistry teacher. After working with her she could see how much I loved science and engineering and she introduced me to an Astrophysicist named Kirsten Howley who eventually became my mentor!

Preparation for life after high school

Going to an alternative high school helped to relieve the anxiety I used to have around attending school.  With my newfound academic confidence and the support of the Holden teachers and staff, applying to college no longer felt like the apocalypse.

I’ll be attending Merritt College this fall studying what I love: science and engineering.

How an alternative high school changed my life

I was never happy in traditional school settings. I felt stuck. School sucked for me. After attending an Information Session at Holden I decided to come for a visit day and it changed my life.

If you (or your child) is feeling stuck in life or in your high school experience, an alternative high school might transform your life. That’s what it did for me.

*See if Holden is a fit for your family. Attend an information session or schedule a tour.