North Valley School for Young Adults student receives second chance to finish high school

Many people need a second chance in some part of their lives, but not everyone is fortunate enough to get one. That’s why, for learners who want a second chance at finishing high school, Mapleton offers the North Valley School for Young Adults. Their first graduate of the 2022-23 school year, Miguel L., would recommend it.  
He started his middle/high school career at the Mapleton Expeditionary School of the Arts (MESA). Initially, things seemed to go well, but over time he lost his way due to a combination of having too much fun and other reasons too personal for him to talk about.
“I was skipping school…I wouldn’t do any assignments, just go to parties,” he said. “I just wouldn’t focus on school.”
He seriously considered dropping out before one of the few teachers with whom he had a connection, Alyshia Chapman, passed away suddenly from an aneurysm in the fall of 2021, Miguel’s senior year. He said the science teacher was supportive and loving to many students.
“She was the kind of person that even when you don’t have anyone else rooting for you, she’d be like, ‘You got this. Let’s figure it out,’” he said. “She knew deep down I cared and she never really gave up on me. I was in disbelief when she died.”
Her passing hit a lot of students and staff hard, and MESA produced special pins with her name as a memorial. Miguel vowed that he would, in fact, graduate, and that he wouldn’t take his pin out to wear until he did. Other staff members encouraged him to enroll at North Valley for a fresh start, after it was clear he wouldn’t have enough credits to walk with his class at MESA.

Chapman pin

Located on Mapleton’s Skyview Campus, North Valley provides a place for students, aged 17-21, who are credit deficient, a new pathway to educational success by offering an opportunity to get back on track. Students may have a variety of reasons why they couldn’t finish high school, from health issues to problems at home, but their goal is the same: recommit and earn their high school diploma. In a typical year, the school graduates about 30 students. 

Miguel took two math classes, and one each in English, the humanities, and financial literacy. Because of North Valley’s accelerated system, he was able to earn his credits in the first quarter of 2022, in half the time it would have taken him at MESA. And thanks in part to the school’s staff, he finished.  

“What students find when they choose to come here is that it’s a small community full of staff who care about them, and who will hold them accountable,” said Michelle Barrott-Jackson, the post-secondary options coach at North Valley. “They can’t always find that at traditional schools and need people to get in their face to keep them on task.”  

Miguel confirmed his teachers stayed on him, even texting him outside of class to ask if he needed help. He appreciated it and, when he still had moments of doubt, he would look at his pin for motivation.

He said he felt great when he finally finished all his credits, but he was initially unable to fulfill his pact after someone broke into his car and stole the pin, among other items. Thankfully, the staff at MESA had an extra pin and will make sure he has it to pin on his tassel when he walks across the stage on May 20.

Miguel thinks Mrs. Chapman would be happy he finished, and he has a message for anyone like him who is on the fence about whether to graduate.

“North Valley was a good resource for me. I’d say for anyone who is considering it, sit down, analyze your dreams, make a plan, and follow it,” he said. “Root for yourself and you’re bound to be successful.”

Miguel is now working toward a jewelry license and would ultimately like to own multiple jewelry shops to earn enough money to support his entire family.