Growing up, I was the epitome of a cookie-cutter kid. I excelled in school, getting straight A´s throughout the entirety of my elementary and junior high career. I played soccer and basketball, participated in track and field, and did triathlons. I became obsessed with trying to be perfect. For all of my time in junior high, I became preoccupied with a trophy that was given out to students with a cumulative GPA of 4.0. I stopped at nothing to get that award and at the time it seemed like it mattered more to me than anything else. Now, that trophy is sitting under my bed collecting dust. Don’t get me wrong — I am proud of how hard I worked to accomplish what I did. However, after taking a huge leap of faith, my entire view of what success looks and feels like drastically changed.
After getting a traumatic brain injury in the 9th grade, it dawned on me that maybe there was more to life than being a straight-A student and the star on a sports team. When the academic and athletic success suddenly came to a halt and I didn’t have people constantly praising me, my self-worth plummeted. Following my injury, I realized that I worked so hard just to get assurance and validation from those around me. I was a people pleaser, and when the people around me were happy with what I was doing, so was I. I realized that I had been missing something. I was motivated, but maybe for the wrong reasons.I realized others were owning my learning experience and that I wasn’t working for the sole purpose of my own growth and fulfillment.
I needed a better opportunity to understand my place in the world. During my first day at Boise High School, I thought about how I was just mindlessly going through the motions throughout the day and how my friend had made a radical decision to go to a new option for high school called One Stone. I applied to the school before even getting the chance to tell my mom. We got a call from the school counselor, who invited us both in to talk with her and learn more. What I was hearing described a school that was radically different from anything I had ever known.
As I dug deeper in considering this new option, I realized that I would not only be evaluated on my knowledge, but also my creativity, mindset, and skills. I would have the opportunity to work towards goals that were meaningful to me as an individual, and that this would be valued and fostered. I knew I could be successful in the system I had grown up in. I knew just what I had to do in order to get an A and move on without really applying myself further. I wanted to have the opportunity to be innovative and do things that hadn’t been done before. I was itching for real world application in my learning. I was eager to develop the soft skills that could set me apart in the ever-changing world. While it wasn’t an easy decision, I decided to go for it.
I can honestly say that this was one of the best decisions I have ever made. However, I didn’t always feel this way. Coming to One Stone didn’t just click like everything had in my life before. I was challenged in ways that I would have never imagined I would be at school and pushed outside my comfort zone.
After my first semester, I had a complete change in mindset. I realized that learning wasn’t what I had always believed it to be. Before, I didn’t care whether or not I could apply what I had learned beyond a test. Now, I was taking ownership over my education and learning. I was gaining a sense of empowerment and became more and more invested. I was able to engage in very meaningful and trusting relationships not only with my peers, but with my mentors -especially my advisor who has allowed me to practice vulnerability. I set goals that were relevant to me and have worked hard at accomplishing them for reasons far beyond pleasing others based on their standards.
I found myself becoming more and more involved at One Stone and staying well beyond the constraints of the school day. I started participating in afterschool programs, became highly involved on the Admissions Team, and became a member of the Board of Directors. The best part was, I wasn’t doing any of this for a pat on the back from the people around me. I was doing it because I wanted to equip myself with a toolkit for success, regardless of what I choose to pursue and because I truly believed in the mission of One Stone to make students better leaders and the world a better place. I felt good about the impact I was having on the community around me and in turn felt good inside about the work I was doing and the person I am. I feel confident in my abilities to advocate for myself and those around me. I believe in myself and my ability to be successful and overcome the inevitable hurdles that are in the path ahead of me. It is because of all of this that I can say, that this one decision was a pivotal moment in my life. For everything I have invested into during my time at One Stone, I have grown.
I continue to question One Stone the same way I did during my first semester here. Not because I don’t believe in what we are doing, but because I want to push the organization to be the very best it can be for future learners. When I see something happening that isn’t in line with our mission or doesn’t feel right, I feel empowered to change it. We constantly push to stay on the leading edge of learning and explore what education can look like. The social-emotional piece of One Stone has been critical to my schooling experience. I have had consistent support from my advisor, coaches, and peers who uplift me to continue to grow. I have had relevant and real-world experiences through Design Labs and Summer Internships. With equality of voice being vital to the One Stone community, I have had the opportunity to develop my voice while also valuing everyone else’s around me. Not only do I have a seat at the table at One Stone, I possess the same value as everyone involved. I am living proof of the transformation students go through at One Stone. I have transformed as a learner, leader, community member, and human being. I went from working hard to get straight A´s to working even harder purely for my own personal growth and ability to apply what I was learning beyond the classroom. I would not be who I am today if I hadn’t taken that leap of faith to disrupt what learning can look like.