Originally Published in the Huffington Post
My name is Nuvia Martinez and I’m currently a senior at Central High School.
I see students from different schools constantly dropping out. Everyone has their own reasons: its usually family problems, drugs, jobs, friends, sometimes even teachers. I have family that are high school drop outs and family that are graduates.
I have an older brother that never passed the tenth grade because he dropped out. I always ask him why and he tells me something different every time: "it's because school is boring" or "I like kicking it with my friends" and other excuses. His partner is also a drop out. She always tells me that she just didn't like waking up early. I honestly still don't understand them.
Family is always going to be there. It can affect students in good ways and bad. I was a good student when I started high school but I never really had that extra support I needed. My mom is a single mom with eight kids, five living with us at the moment. When there was an open house or a parent conference she wouldn't really worry about it and she wouldn't go, so little by little I stopped caring and started doing worse in school. My mom still wouldn't go to meetings or other school events. I saw that my brother wasn't doing well, so I tried going a different path. I tried to improve. I gave up on thinking that my mom was ever going to be there. The first two weeks of my senior year, at my previous school, I got kicked out for fighting and my mom finally came to my school to check me out of there. I told her that I didn't want to go to school anymore that I would just work. She told me to do what ever I wanted. So I had to choose: did I want to be like my brother who sleeps all day and does nothing or do I want to be something more and be that example I never had for my younger siblings? I decided to go back to school because I wanted to be the role model I never had.
Drugs and jobs also can be part of why students drop out. Drugs can get addicting and you cannot buy drugs unless you have money. So what students do is get a part time job and they love to see that money coming in and those drugs being bought. Sometimes they don't even get jobs but they start selling drugs and they see that its easy money and they feel like they can do that forever and get away with it, until they get caught and get locked up. Sometimes the family can be in need of money and students drop out to support the family.
When I was at Venice High School I didn't have the best teachers. Teachers would be so rude to students and just treat us like we are nothing. I understand that they can be stressed out but if they don't like their jobs then they should quit. I once had a friend in the same class. He didn't really do much work but when he turned something in late once the teacher told him, "Why do you even bother coming to school? You're just taking up space. You should just stop trying. You're going to be working in McDonald's years from now anyway." My friend stopped coming to school a month later. I feel like what teachers tell students can affect them deeply.
When I started going to Central High School, I noticed myself changing. Perhaps this is because I finally started getting the support that I needed to care about my education and to do well. One opportunity I took advantage of at Central High School was The Story Project. Once a week mentors from the movie industry would come and share with us their knowledge and experience while engaging students to find the language with which to express our stories. The Story Project taught me more about other people and about myself. I learned the technical aspects of filmmaking: how to interview, how to film, and how to edit. I didn't know much about a camera but as I learned, I started to enjoy filmmaker.
Interviewing people seemed difficult for me at first but when I tried it out it really wasn't hard. Because of our practice of trust building, my classmates became vulnerable in their interviews, and I started to get to know who they really were. Everyone had a story to tell and they were all very different. Being a part of The Story Project also helped me tell my story. It was difficult for me to speak up, but I always received the support I needed. I'm glad I'm a part of the story project. Learning all these new things helped me communicate with people in better ways.
Something that really made a difference in my life was having the support from my teacher and mentors at Central High School. Maybe if more young people had supportive adults around them then they wouldn't give up so easily, and maybe there would be more students graduating than dropping out. I'm glad I had the opportunity to receive all this support from adults that didn't give up on me. I will be graduating high school this June and I will continue with my education. I will do my best in school and continue to get a better life. I hope that students out there can go back to school and just hope for the best. Everyone has their own story. I choose to do what is right for me and that's the way that I will keep going.