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Headed in the right direction

MC takes in more transfer students per year than any other high school in the Poway Unified School District. Looking around campus, it’s easy to see why. As a transfer student from RB, I can confidently say that MC has  a much warmer, more generally accepting student body. However, more than a few students have left for the independent study program, New Directions. Maybe there is some major con to MC that I have missed. Or maybe “regular” high school just isn’t for everyone?

Senior Andrea Osuna made the switch to New Directions for a trimester during her sophomore and junior years. Although the details of her motives for transferring remain confidential , Osuna’s personal conflicts were enough to make her realize that MC no longer benefitted  her. Her emotions eventually caught up with her scholastic performance.

“Because I wasn’t happy, I kind of stopped caring about everything,” Osuna said. “My academics suffered.”

In cases like Osuna’s, a more flexible school schedule helped ease stress and allotted additional time for self-care that a student attending school for thirty hours a week cannot afford. Senior Casey Bollenbecker , another New Directions transfer, experienced a mental reinvigoration because of this leeway.

“It gave me a break I feel I needed,” Bollenbecker said. “It took stress off my schedule and prepared me more for coming back to school because I had a fresh mindset.”

New Directions attendees typically spend only one hour at school each week, sometimes receiving individual time with teachers. Senior Anna Zois , who attended New Directions her first trimester of this school year, found that this structure  of learning was more her stride.

“They realize that everyone has a different style of learning and goes at their own pace,” Zois said. “But not so much here [at MC]. Everyone’s got to do the exact same thing.”

Zois’s more open schedule liberated her to focus more on her job at Nekter Juice Bar. Similarly, Bollenbecker favored the freedom to pursue her passion for horseback riding, and Osuna reaped the emotional benefits of not being immersed in the high-stress environment of daily school. Yet, after a short while, the expatriates were ready for a comeback to rid themselves of the loneliness and staleness that the social isolation at New Directions resulted in.

“There is no social aspect at New Directions,” Bollenbecker said. “You have to have a solid group of friends from here to still be hanging out with people.”

Osuna agrees that while New Directions better suited her at the time, she greatly missed simple interactions with her peers.

“At least at school, you’re outside of your house and not cooped up in your room,” Osuna said. “There were times when I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this is getting to be too much of the same thing.’ I needed to change it.”

Zois now at Mt. Carmel | Photo
Credit Francesca Hodges

Zois noticed  that New Directions was even lacking in scholastic concerns.

“I noticed myself just in general getting lazy,” Zois said. “You catch on to how it operates and know all the tricks and shortcuts on how to [slack on] your work and still get good grades.”

All three students appear to concede that while they are grateful to have had an alternative to full-time schooling, New Directions is not a permanent or ideal option.

“I used new Directions as an escape. I was fortunate to do it, but I recognize that you can’t always just up and leave from a situation,” Osuna said. “Although New Directions can be something great for students, it can also be an easy way out.”

Osuna’s time at New Directions, along with her counselor, Ms. Ferrer, provided her with a new approach to dealing with the everyday pressures of school. She now recognizes that it is okay to not follow a path that is identical to other students’ and that taking the time to figure out the correct one takes priority over blindly running in the same direction as everyone else.

“Since school is so competitive, people [say], ‘Suck it up, this is what you have to do,’” Osuna said. “It is true, there are things in life you have to do. But it’s not good for the student to come to school without giving it their all, and then what? Just graduating, or maybe not even graduating?”

Contrary to many MC rumours, New Directions is not comprised of students who are academically apathetic or indifferent to traditional schooling. Those in need of a respite from MC shared a classroom with serious athletes and students with debilitating medical conditions at New Directions. They all pursued the same general desire: a lead in the right direction.

 

About Evelyne Eng

Evelyne Eng
Evelyne Eng is a senior at Mt. Carmel High School.

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