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Teen Voice: Choosing CHOICES
August 26, 2016 Faith Reisig   

Read more by Faith Reisig
Editorís note: Faith Reisig is a junior in Choices, an alternative education program at Scottsbluff High School.

My life is a result of all the choices Iíve made. Every day I am bombarded by countless decisions; how many times I hit the snooze button, what to wear, what to have for breakfast, how much effort to put into school, what mood and mindset Iíll be in, and so on. Most days the choices I make do not dramatically influence my life. Every once in a while, though, I have the opportunity to choose something that will affect my future. I made that kind of decision last spring when I decided to change schools.

I went to SHS for the first two years of high school. Scottsbluff High School is a wonderful place and Iíve enjoyed learning there, but since my freshman year Iíd been interested in the alternative program the Scottsbluff school district offers, called CHOICES. Iíd considered making the switch more than once before last spring, but I had always been told I would be unable to have the same academic and extracurricular opportunities I enjoyed so much at the main building.

My first exposure to the CHOICES program came through my One-Acts coach, Sue Herdt, the English teacher and counsellor there. Mrs. Herdt is a big, beautiful woman who can fill up a room as soon as she enters it. She is one of the most actively kind people I know, invested in taking care of every one of her students. She stresses the importance of having safe environments and people to trust, while living a life that supports those beliefs. Because of this I had some idea what the CHOICES program would be like and wanted to go, but I didnít have enough conviction to make all the choices I needed to transition. I decided that CHOICES was a good program, but didnít have the courage to risk transferring.

After my freshman year I resigned myself to staying in the main SHS program and focused on my ordinary but enjoyable high school experience.

There were still things I regretted about not making the change. I heard my friends from the alternative program talk about the experiences they had and the projects they were doing. So, last spring, when I was invited to a CHOICES recruitment day aimed at showing prospective students what the program was like, I chose to take a chance.

That day was like nothing Iíd ever experienced before. Everyone seemed to care deeply about each other, which isnít something Iíd seen much in high school before. The students made sure everyone felt included in discussion and activities. In a group of more than 60 teenagers there was no real division. The lack of caste or cliques impressed me as much as the manners everyone displayed. People came to introduce themselves, shaking my hand and smiling. Not one of them seemed insincere. Later they talked about how they had benefitted from the program, all had wonderful things to say about the opportunities, the teachers, and the family atmosphere.

On the whole, relationships were the focus. Mrs. Herdt and the other teachers explained the opportunities and requirements to be a CHOICES student, including taking at least one college class, completing 30 hours of community service, and an internship. All things that focused on bettering students and helping others. However, what finally convinced me to choose CHOICES was seeing students live out the same principles I have; belief in each other, focus on improving themselves, and helping others. I realized that continuing at Scottsbluff High School was the easier choice, but CHOICES was the option that would allow me to constantly reevaluate my priorities and principles.

I decided to take a chance and make a hard choice, but one that would ensure I had help deciding who I was as a person, as well as providing a framework to help me change the world around me. By choosing to change schools I made a decision that changed my course of action, one that will continue to affect my life for the foreseeable future.
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