After Multiple Suspensions, Fresno Student Hit Rock Bottom

Dec. 16, 2011 / By

New America Media, Video, First Person: Amelia Garrido / Video: The kNOw Youth Media,Posted: Dec 13, 2011

When I began middle school, I thought school would be a breeze. But somehow, it wasn’t enough to just have friends and good grades. It was challenging for me to get along with students at school, because I would easily lose my temper and fight, which led me to get suspended many times and now I am behind in credits and struggling to graduate. Most of the conflicts I faced could have been fixed by talking it out.

Looking back, I realize now that I needed something more, like a program or more teachers and counselors who could help me resolve the problems I was having with other students.

In seventh grade, there was a girl who would give me mean looks. One day, I had a friendly conversation with her boyfriend and soon a rumor spread that he liked me. It offended her when she heard the news so she came looking for me and was asking me questions, but I had no clue what she was talking about. Then she said we were going to fight.

She swung at me, and I blocked with my fists. We tumbled and screamed at each other until the principal pulled us apart. Our punishment was suspension, but I thought little of it because I didn’t think one suspension would hurt. Afterwards, she and I got over the situation and went our separate ways.

School went smoothly until the following year, which meant new classes and new people. In one of my classes, everyone had at least one person they knew except me. I felt uncomfortable so I sat at the first table I saw. During class, I got up to sharpen my pencil, but when I came back, a girl was in my seat across from her friend. The teacher knew I had been there first so the girl was told to get up. She glared at me and left.

Later that day at school, the same girl bumped into me and gave me a mean look. After that, I found myself, many times, being followed and bumped into by that girl. I couldn’t take it anymore, so I decided I would go to the office and tell the principal but before I even got there, I saw her coming my way. She bumped into me again! I lost my temper, turned around, grabbed her hair, and asked her what was her problem. Somehow, we both fell down and started rolling and hitting each other on the floor. Teachers broke up the fight and we were suspended. I was transferred to another middle school.

I did not stay at my first high school long because I was suspended my freshman year for following a girl around school and trying to ask her a question about a conflict between our moms. I simply wanted to talk to the girl about the conflict, but each time I tried she would run off. I just wanted to talk. It felt unfair to get punished for that. Now I see that she felt threatened by me, and the school was trying to make her feel safe. I was transferred to another high school.

After four months at the new school, I ran into trouble with another girl. She accused me of getting too close to her boyfriend, but I knew I was only sitting beside him. I didn’t want to worsen the situation so my sister and I decided to talk to her older sister, which turned out to be a bad idea.

My sister and her sister started arguing, and then the girl called me a bad name. I lost my temper and hit her. My mom couldn’t stand it anymore so she placed me on home studies. I tried going back to school but people kept staring at me and there were rumors about me that forced me to go back to home studies. I felt so neglected by everyone.

My mom spoke to the principal, and they told me there were no records of my sophomore year and that it was going to take me another year and a half to graduate. I was crushed.

I finally enrolled in a continuation school my senior year. When it seemed I was beginning to settle down, I was suddenly sent to the office. My mom spoke to the principal, and they told me there were no records of my sophomore year and that it was going to take me another year and a half to graduate. I was crushed.

I thought the school would help me graduate on time but that wasn’t going to happen. The principal offered an alternative, which was to get my GED. It was the best idea because I would still graduate on time and the GED would be almost as good as a diploma. I felt relieved, but I still have to worry about the tests I’ll have to pass in order to obtain my GED.

I think about how many transcripts got lost, and how being suspended, out of school and transferring all the time took its toll on me.

I appreciate all the teachers and counselors out there who are doing the best they can to help students, but if I had only had more of them to help me along the way, I might not be in this situation.

Thinking back, I wish that I could have been the bigger person and walk away to find help instead of fighting. I wish my sister and I hadn’t gone to speak to that girl. If only there could have been someone to help me resolve the problem in a better way, maybe even just having a friendly conversation would have helped us clear the air.

In most cases I was wrong, and it is my fault that I am in this situation. Still, I shouldn’t have been juggled from school to school and there should have been something to help me as a student get along with other students. Today, I just have to deal with my situation and try to not make any more mistakes. I’ve hit rock bottom, but I know I can only go up from here.

Amelia Garrido is a youth content producer for The kNOw Youth Media in Fresno, CA, a project of New America Media. The video was produced in collaboration with the iWatchNews, a project of the Center for Public Integrity.

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The kNOw Fresno

Through The kNOw Youth Media's program, we create opportunities for our youth participants, who in turn create long-term positive change in their communities. Our approach weaves youth development and youth media innovation to produce our biannual youth publication, multimedia projects, and community forums.