I was never one for the regular school system

School Within A College
School Within A College

I was never one for the regular school system. Just thinking about entering a classroom a few years ago made me feel ill from the anxiety, often I would walk a couple of minutes to school in the morning, and turn back around. I was scared of the world entirely, I believed there was no safe place or person worth trusting.

After years in the mental health system, I finally was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. A little bit after meeting the psychiatrist who played a huge part in helping me move forward in my life, I was enrolled in the Cadence Program. It was there that I learned that being a leader starts with showing up. My attendance skyrocketed, I began to trust people again and I experienced so many amazing opportunities that changed my life. The motto of Cadence is “a leader is someone who looks at their world and says it doesn’t have to be this way and does something about it.” I changed so much in my two semesters at Cadence. I learned skills that I used today in mu regular life, kicked back habits and changed my internal dialogue to a more positive one. I also had wonderful teachers supporting me as I kept growing.

After graduating from Cadence with a new mindset I found myself wanting to go into another Alt Ed Program. I looked into SWAC (School Within a College) and selected to go into the culinary Dual Credit Program. At Cadence I was taught the importance of cooking and eating a meal as a family. Taking introduction to culinary is a huge leap forward and I am learning how to cook meals I’ve never heard of before and some I would never attempt to cook probably ever (on account of it being too hard for me to handle or the likelihood of the house being burnt down).

Being in the kitchen and really pushing myself to be the best me I can be where I complete my tasks and help others along the way has definitely increased my overall confidence. In the kitchen, we’re all on the same team trying to complete the same goal in the end. That goal being… making delicious food! Alt Ed programs saved me from dropping out of school and really made my high school experience something amazing that I will remember forever. Thank you for this opportunity and thanks to Mrs. Kurylo, Chef Bruce and all the Dual Credit teachers for being super awesome!

Kaitie W

Many pathways to an education

Emmah - Dual Credit - Conestoga College -
Emmah – Dual Credit program at Conestoga College

A leader, something I never would’ve dared call myself when I first began high school. There was once a time when I couldn’t even walk into a classroom without being held back by my anxiety and depression. Thanks to the many alternative education programs I’ve been blessed to be a part of, I am no longer living a life of fear.

It all started with SAL (Supervised Alternative Learning) a program that many of my friends have been successful in, naturally, I figured it would be a good fit for me too (not to mention a big part of me was gravitating in whichever direction my closest friends seemed to be drifting). But I struggled to stay motivated after a long day of working, it was too much diligence for me to pull out a booklet and start working on something else.

Through SAL I was lucky enough to be introduced to April King who could see I was struggling to get work done. She told me about a program called Cadence which initially I was completely uninterested in going to. After going on a tour of the hope house. After speaking to a few friends of friends I decided to reconsider and took a leap of faith. I remember the first few weeks were the hardest, since all my mutual friends were graduated from Cadence I spent my lunch hour walking 20 minutes home then sitting in my room for 15 minutes then walking another 20 minutes back. As tough as it was I held out hope that I was doing the right thing. Before I knew it I was spending my weekends wishing I was in class with my Cadence family.

Being a Cadence student taught me about pushing your limits and being willing to make a positive change in your life. Cadence showed me how good can always come from bad. I chose to apply to SWAC [School Within a College] because I really enjoy cooking and being in Cadence prepared me to motivate myself more and get the booklets done on time. Getting to learn cooking from Chef Bruce was a great experience and I consider myself extremely luck to have had the opportunity. Without Alternative school programs like Dual Credit I can honestly say I don’t think I would’ve make it half this far. I will always carry the lessons I’ve learned from these programs and the lovely memories of the people I got to meet along the way.

Lastly, it was an absolute pleasure getting to spend my days in room A16, extra special thanks go out the Mrs. Kurylo for being her sunny self on the rainiest days.