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Jamie explains how making the change to RLC made all the difference:

During elementary and middle school, I thrived and loved learning. I was a model student. When I reached highschool, however, things changed. For two years, I struggled through public high school, losing motivation. I had a hard time even getting out of bed in the morning. Facing medical issues and a rough emotional state, I was not given enough space to deal with it.

At the start of my Junior year, everything became too much. I hated school. The limiting and toxic environment that made me feel trapped got worse. I would leave almost every class period, hiding in the bathroom for 5 minutes just to calm down enough to function. The stress and loneliness and anxiety and sadness built up quickly, and after a month, I started refusing to go to school. I, along with my parents, began to look for alternative ways for schooling. Then, we found RLC.

After my parents reached out to RLC, I went for a trial day. Within the first few minutes of my visit, I felt more comfortable than I had ever been in public high school. The other members were welcoming, and the leaders of the program directed their attention towards what I am interested in, rather than a prescribed list of requirements. This first day, I attended the day’s classes and was surprised at how they were intriguing and informative, yet also enjoyable. RLC seemed to call out to me.

For the first time in years, I was excited to go to school. and begin my journey into self-directed learning. I studied  several topics independently, including prepping for the AP Statistics exam. Getting to pace myself and work on what I wanted freed me to accomplish self-set goals. I am very interested in theatre, music, and art, areas that were largely overlooked by my public school. During my first year at RLC, I took classes in all of these areas, attended live performances, visited art galleries, and identified outside organizations that can provide continued experience.

At RLC, I took classes in interests I already had (creative writing, art, acting), as well as tried new things that developed into interests (astronomy, Russian). When my interests didn’t fit in any current classes, my mentor helped find ways for me to study these interests, whether through a new class or the surrounding community. For example, through RLC, I found a community theatre that I now volunteer at.

Now, after my first year at RLC, I can see a stark contrast between the me that went to public school and the me that attends RLC. This new me smiles more, and feels like a meaningful part of the world. Instead of just going through the motions, I am passionate about what I’m doing. I feel like I did as a child, beginning to love learning again.

Now, I am attending RLC for senior year. I am also taking community college classes in theatre, continuing to volunteer at the community theatre, and studying in order to apply for college. I plan on attending a four-year school, double majoring in theatre and gender studies/women’s studies. This is made possible by RLC, as it has given me control over my education and future.

–Jamie, 2019