Once a quarter we feature a Holden student. Today, we’d like to introduce you to Kayla, a senior at Holden High School.
How has attending Holden impacted the way you feel about school (and life)?
At Holden, I’m allowed to be vulnerable. I used to be afraid to ask for help. I thought it was synonymous with giving up. Holden gives me the space to handle my depression and stay on top of my academics.
Describe your experience with school before Holden:
Before Holden, I attended a very large public high school (approximately 3,000 students). As a result of being in an abusive relationship, and struggling with anxiety and anorexia I was severely depressed.
The teachers and counselors at my previous high school did not have the proper training to deal with the emotional and psychological trauma I was facing. Subsequently, my life felt so overwhelming that I attempted suicide. That attempt led my parents to enroll me in a residential treatment center.
How did the residential treatment center impact your life?
It was there that I learned how to give myself a break. Above all, I began to show empathy toward myself, so that I could in turn give it to others. I became fully aware of the importance of being mindful of the language I use to speak about myself and others.
What do you love about Holden?
I can come as I am. For example, I don’t have to pretend like everything is okay if it’s not. I’ve made a lot of progress, but there are still times when I’d rather suppress my feelings instead of opening up. The staff at Holden is great at helping me process what I’m struggling with. Their methods are very effective.
I wish more kids could have an opportunity to go to a school like this. Before I came to Holden, I attended a school with over 3,000 kids. My teachers were just as miserable as I was. With so many students and crowded classrooms, there was no way they could genuinely care about my individual goals and needs. Holden is personalized. It’s made all the difference.
How has Holden helped you pursue your passions and interests?
Holden has a flexible learning model. So, students get credit for the work and learning we do inside and outside of school. This model has allowed me to take (and receive credit for) classes I take at Diablo Valley College and the work I do as a spoken word artist.
Fun Facts About Kayla:
Kayla is an accomplished spoken word artist. Her long list of accolades include:
- Advancing to the final round of the Youth Speaks national Teen Poetry Slam
- Being selected as a Youth Speaks, Youth Ambassador
- An invitation to deliver a Tedx Talk (this past November!)
- A San Francisco Business Times feature
One of Kayla’s most requested spoken word pieces is, “I hate writing.” Which was inspired by an experience she had at her previous high school when an English teacher made discouraging remarks regarding Kayla’s bout with depression.