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ALC gets bad rep, but actually very good

So I was watching a TV show a few weeks back, I don't know what the show was, but a lady quoted "high school were some of the best times of my life; I made some of the best memories I have."

Something about that quote really set me off into thinking, and how it seems like high school for me has consisted more of learning from mistakes and personal screw ups than it even has for educational purposes.

I guess that personal reason is the reason my grades really started slipping the past year or so, to the point that right before Christmas break it was decided it would be beneficial for me to transfer to the ALC (Area Learning Center).

When I first learned about that, I was pretty upset. I guess it made me feel abnormal to accept the idea of graduating anywhere other than the high school. After all, it's a day I've been imagining since kindergarten. But come time, people said I would learn to accept it and probably like it, so I tried to go into the whole deal with as open a mind as I could.

Fortunately for me, those people have been right so far. I love it at the ALC, and I haven't enjoyed going to school as much as I have the past month.

Now, I am a fairly self-conscience person who hates change and is somewhat judgmental (though I try really hard not to be, and work at it every day), so changing schools wasn't sitting well with me at all. I had always imagined the ALC as a place where kids who wouldn't do homework, had drug problems or got pregnant went to slack off and barely get by. And it does consist of kids who struggle with those problems, but it also consists of kids who struggle with other problems as well, and no matter what it is the ALC seems to help them all. And after my first half a day, my perception was changed 100 percent from the judgmental version I had beforehand.

The ALC is a place where kids who struggle with certain problems (I'm definitely one of them) can get the kind of help they need to get through school successfully. First off, the class sizes range from 5-15 people, which are half to three-quarters the size of at the high school, so the teachers actually get to know each kid individually, and can learn their style of learning to best help them get through whatever they struggle with.

Second off, I've come to love the curriculum. The classes are exactly the same as at the high school, just with different assignments and fewer students. I'm learning the exact same things in Algebra 2 I would learn at the high school, I'm just able to get a better understanding because the teacher actually has time to help me individually during class.

There are also tons of unique opportunities not offered at the high school, like skills classes to help pick up certain things, and a Friday block class that goes until 10:17 a.m., then we get the rest of the day to work or do whatever. And we go on field trips, which always keeps school more entertaining. For instance, tomorrow we go to the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis to watch the play Julius Caesar.

The last thing about the ALC I prefer is the teachers. They are all great. They are exceptional at teaching whatever it is they teach, but also create relationships with all the students, so you're not afraid to talk to them about anything (such as getting extra help, or even what you did last weekend). All and all, they make my schooling experience way better than it was.

Anyway, I judged the ALC pretty harshly at the beginning, but I was 100 steps the wrong direction. It's already helped me a ton, and I wanted the public to get an inside taste of what it's really like there, to help maybe shut down those bad judgments people seem to have towards it (I was one of them), and also to maybe try to convince anyone that it's not a bad place if high school isn't clicking right.

And regardless of what your opinion towards it is, it's been an extremely beneficial choice for me.

Jonah Bowe is a junior at the Area Learning Center.