From the school spirit files: Staff and students at alternative school say stigma is undeserved

Aug 26, 2013

Alternative high schools often carry a bit of a stigma.

Wavecrest Career Academy in Holland is no different.

Shelby Danielson is a senior at the school. "People think it's a bad school and it's really not," she says.

"There are so many great kids and they have so much potential, they just need that extra push from teachers and they might not get that at other schools."

Daniels is hoping to participate in the school's first ever 5K run Monday evening. Staff and students hope their show of school spirit will help inspire some community pride in Wavecrest.

They're looking for ways to combat what they say are misperceptions about their school as a dumping ground for kids who haven't been successful anywhere else.

Danielson says she combated serious anxiety and depression prior to coming to Wavecrest. She says she felt like her mental health needs weren't taken seriously at a larger school. 

Now, she hopes the run will attract more kids like herself to the school. " I know there's kids out there that do need a smaller school and Wavecrest is perfect for that," she says. "It just changed my whole outlook on high school."

The school openly acknowledges many of their students struggle. Markers like standardized test scores bear this out.

Even so, they want to emphasize the resilience and commitment students devote to getting their diplomas.  

Over 40% of the graduating seniors in 2013 had previously dropped out of school, and over 20% are teen parents.