Sarah Sutcliffe feels confident that she’s moving in the right direction. She was recently named an Ontario Scholar and finished her Grade 12 year with an average of 93.5 per cent.
“Being named an Ontario Scholar and getting these grades really does help reassure me that I’m going the right way,” she says. “It’s proof that my motivation and drive help me in life.”
Sarah attended the Essa campus of the Alternative Secondary School. She said that finding the right environment for her to learn in was key to her succeeding.
“In the traditional high school setting, I struggled with the social aspect. But I found the Alternative School had the right atmosphere. I could focus more on learning and it made school something I enjoyed, something I became excited for. Being in the right place for me was the change I needed.”
The independent learning pace is also something Sarah liked about being at the Alternative School—it allows students more time to learn and explore things they are interested in.
“I really enjoyed the Alternative School—we became a family,” she says. “The teachers are wonderful, and you can connect and build strong relationships with your peers. It’s great to really get to know the other students and learn a new perspective on life through what they experience.”
For other students who might be struggling with high school, Sarah says that it’s important for them to realize it’s not about other people, it’s about doing the best you can and focusing on your goals.
“High school isn’t permanent. Sometimes you might feel like you don’t fit in, but you’ll get through it. Put your energy into school rather than into the people around you. If you put your best efforts in, no matter what the result is, you’ll know you did all you could and can be proud of that.”
Sarah’s favourite course was philosophy because it challenged her to look at the way she thought and she had to push herself through the course.
“Philosophy was an interesting challenge,” she says. “As much as I didn’t like it because you had to really push hard, I also loved it because of that. The content was amazing and it was really interesting.”
Sarah plans to return to high school for an extra year in order to focus on what she wants to do when she’s done.