WHO ASKED US?: How I Dropped Back Into School

WHO ASKED US?: How I Dropped Back Into School

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(Editor’s Note: Back in 2009, one out of every six high school seniors in Santa Clara County dropped out of school.  One of them was Jacob Jimenez, a writer for Silicon Valley De-Bug.  But this year, Jimenez decided to drop back in.)

Today was my first day of school, kind of. It's been so long since I've been a student, that it all feels new to me.

The last time I was in school was my sophomore year of high school. Back then, I wouldn’t go to class because I thought the teachers didn't like me, and I felt like they treated me different than other students. At the time, I was mostly hanging out with friends, cutting school, smoking, going downtown and getting myself into anything other than school.

So arriving at the high school campus today for the first time in two years, I felt a little weird. Sitting in the classrooms, I could feel the gaze of all the other kids, looking at me funny. It felt like I didn't belong.

One of my new teacher’s is cool. Her name is “Mrs. J”. I have a tattoo on my hand and she made me put a band-aid over it. Having her tell me I’d have to hide my tattoo was a low point of my day, but I also knew it was in my best interest.

During lunch, I worried that I wasn't going to know anyone, or meet anyone new. I felt out of place at first, but then I saw one of my old friends from the sixth grade, and that put me at ease.

I also saw one of my ex-girlfriends from 8th grade. Our relationship was fine, but she acted like a little kid, so I broke up with her. I guess I broke her heart and her dad didn't like that one bit. I'm not sure if he still wants to beat me up, but seeing her again made me think about relationships. Sometimes I think that having a girlfriend - a square, "go to every class", nerdy type girlfriend - might push me to do well in school and help me get to class on time.

Thinking even further back to when I was in kindergarten, I’m reminded of my mom. I never wanted to be anywhere but around her. In fact, I loved my mom too much to be in school. I thought she could and would do anything in the world for me.

Later on, when I was growing up and getting into trouble, she would come to my school and fight for me every time. Sometimes, I would get myself into trouble just to see her.

But a few years ago, my mom passed away. And when she did, there was no longer anyone there to fight for me like she had.

Other than the teachers who made me feel uncomfortable, my mom’s passing was a huge reason why I dropped out. On some days I would just stay at my house, so that I wouldn’t have to hear or see my teachers. At home, I could avoid them completely and just hang out, alone.

While other kids might have reacted differently to their mom passing away, all I really wanted to do was run away from things and never return. Eventually though, I arrived at this question: What will that solve? In retrospect, I think that I handled the situation more maturely than other kids, and a lot of that is due to having community support: It was after talking to a bunch of the guys at Silicon Valley De-Bug that I decided to re-enroll in school, two long years after I had dropped out.

Now that I’m back in the classroom and have some support, I think about my future more than ever. I want to open my own business - maybe a restaurant - because my mother loved to cook and it’s something she taught me. I’d like to name the restaurant “Mays”, after her. My public high school might not teach me culinary arts, but I know that with support, I can continue to go to school and be the person my mom would have wanted me to be.

For those that know me, they also must know that I hated school for the longest time, so going back to class now is a big deal. I'd like to thank De-Bug and my friend Daniel for helping me make a fresh start at school and in life. I know my mom would be very happy for me, because I’ve changed. I know that if she were here she would say, "Thank you for helping my son. I'm glad my son found a place where he can go and feel good about himself.”