Meet Chris.

Chris Padilla, 12th grade, Summit Olympus

Before I came to Summit Olympus, I didn’t really care about school. I was just doing the bare minimum to get by. My 8th grade year, I transferred from one district to another because I was getting into trouble.

Then my mom’s friend told her about this charter high school high opening up in downtown Tacoma. I was skeptical, but my mom knew I wasn’t going down a good path. My GPA was around a 2.0. I figured, if it’ll make my mom happy, I’ll just go.

My mindset was like, “I don’t need school, it won’t benefit me.” I never thought I’d go to college. At that point, I didn’t even think I was going to graduate. I had blown ninth grade, and I figured, “My life is already made up, why care?”

And then, my teachers started buckling down. Every single teacher here was like, “We need to help you, we need to get you into a better spot.” Because my teachers were so invested in my education, I started going to office hours, and started actually getting help.

The most special thing about this school is that in every single corner of this school is a trusted adult, like, no matter where you go. All the teachers here know all the kids. I walk through halls, and I hear, “Good morning Chris,” or “How ‘ya doing, how’s the SAT looking, are you caught up in all your classes?” Everyone is so tight, teachers here really want to see you to succeed.

My teachers changed my whole mindset. Today, I am not only on a college track, I have the choice of five different colleges that I’ve been accepted to. I’ll be the first person on my dad’s side of the family to go to college.

My mindset shift wasn’t overnight; it was really slow. I started seeing how my lifestyle was affecting the people around me: my little brothers, my mom, my teachers, and my friends. The summer after 10th grade, I looked back on my grades and I was like, “I could try and get As and Bs. I could help out more with my mom.” And that’s how my mindset has been ever since. There’s always something higher than me, and for me, that’s my mom and my little brothers and people who try to help me.

My mentor is Ms. Reynolds. She’s like a second mom. She’s helped me realize there’s more to life than what I’ve seen, and who I am. She’s helped me find colleges and fill out financial aid forms. With her, I feel like I’m not doing anything alone. I always have a helping hand. That’s a cool thing to have at a school.

At Summit, I’ve learned who I am. I am a person who thinks of other people before himself. People come to me for help, and I’m always there. I’m not judgmental, I’m funny, I’m goofy, and I give good advice. I know I’m making my mom happy and I’m setting a good example for my little brothers.

After college, I think I’d like to be an elementary school teacher. I feel like I owe it to a kid who has a mindset like I used to have. That makes me feel motivated to finish out high school and college. There’s always another little you out there somewhere, who always could use a you.

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