Leaving High School at 15

“I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework

Lily Tomlin

Living with mental health issues at the age where you are still growing and trying to fit in is so hard.

I left another school, Star Prep Academy, at the end of 9th grade. So starting school in 10th grade was not the easiest at Culver City High School. I remember struggling every single day until I graduated about choosing a place to eat lunch. Eventually I just started eating with the teachers who still sat in their classrooms during break. Or lamer yet, I would just go into my high school advisors office, and cry.

Image result for plenty of fish in the sea gif

I remember when I would eat with my fellow peers, the circle would always shift and I would find myself outside that circle. I would always insert myself right behind someone trying to figure out what they were talking about. But somehow I would catch myself not saying a word the entire lunch break and would eventually start circling the school until the bell rang.

The time I would catch myself making conversation it was always about school. I never had anything else to talk about because what was really going on in my head was too graphic to talk about.

In 10th grade my high school advisor told me about this type of GED program called CHSPE. What’s that? I had no clue. He explained to me it would be leaving high school permanently and would be equivalent to earning your high school diploma. I would only take an English and Math test and if i passed I would get the California High School Proficiency Exam certificate. Unlike a high school diploma; however, the CHSPE certificate was only recognized within California. But wow! Isn’t that amazing?So I rushed home telling my mom all about this. Of course her answer was no.

Of course, the no was out of concern. Concern for how others would judge me, judge her for letting me “drop out”, judge my family, and the biggest concern what I would do after high school.

But of course, the idea of graduating early and taking off was always in the back of my head. When I reached 15 it was too much. I had already been hospitalized twice in 10th grade and barely even graduated 10th grade. My teachers were very understanding and helpful in gathering up past homework assignments or assigning me one major project to finish and they would give me a grade.

At the beginning of 11th grade, it was 10th grade on repeat but worse. People were so competitive over what AP’s they were taking, or what scores they got on their SAT”s or ACT’s. I barely could keep my head straight without it thinking of jumping off a cliff let alone sit for a standardized test that would determine what college I could get into.

So my mom and I revisited the topic of me taking the CHSPE and she said yes. I was going to stay at CCHS until I got the certificate but it became very difficult for me to stay in that environment so I started going to independent study that CCHS offered. I just worked on assignments the teacher gave (busy work) at my grandma’s while my mom was at work. I was able to complete several classes and get high school credit for them around October!

In October I took my test and felt very confident. I had been studying a CHSPE prep book beforehand which I highly recommend. The test was an essay question, math, and english section not nearly as hard as the SAT though.

Come November 16, it’s the actual date of my birthday and I was about to head out. My mom had gotten the mail and took it to her room. She comes rushing into the living room in tears and said guess what?! All I could think of was, “Did one of the dogs die?”

She handed me my certificate of achievement. I was officially done with high school and onto Santa Monica College. I was beyond happy.

I’m writing this to parents, teachers, and students mostly because there are other options you can take and it doesn’t have to be linear.

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