The following are diary entries I made during my time at Alternative School, currently named SOC, or Student Opportunity Center.
I’ve spent three days in the Red Room. Red Room. Sounds like hell, right? It is. This whole place is hell, and I’ve been sent here. Why? Exactly. Why would a good kid like me, someone who is in AP classes, is trying out for varsity choir, and is lettering in theater, end up at alternative school? Why would this happen? I made some really dumb choices. Really dumb. Basically, I had Vicodin and Xanax on me at school, my so-called friend told on me, and the rest is history. So I’m stuck here, stuck in this hell. The Red Room is the worst. You spend your first three days here and they are the worst three days of your entire life. You sit for seven hours in silence, even during lunch. There’s a bathroom in the Red Room and everyone can hear everything, so you have to turn the sink on, unless you want everyone to hear you pee. If you do anything without a teacher’s permission in the Red Room, you get points taken off. See, we’re on a point system. You’re supposed to earn forty points a day. If you get 110 points in three days, you get out of the Red Room and move up to Blue Level. This means you get to attend regular classes. Three more days and 110 points later, you move into Green Level. There’s no difference between Blue and Green, except that Green means you’ve been good and Blue means you’ve been bad. It makes me feel like a kindergartner. I’m almost sixteen years old.
My first day, I was sexually harassed. They didn’t take any points away from him. They didn’t do anything until I called my assistant principal at my regular school, told her what the boy did to me, and she told the SOC. I went home that day and cried.
I’ve gotten out of the Red Room and surpassed Blue Level. I’m on Green Level now. I get to go to regular classes, but it’s not much better. My chemistry teacher told me that there was no proof of a God, that the church is all politics, and that the Bible is false. I argued with him, because I am a firm Christian. I told my parents and they called the SOC. The principal called me into her office and asked me about the situation. As I was explaining it, I realized that she was listening to me. Maybe she heard the sound coming out of my mouth, but she wasn’t listening to what I was actually saying. She didn’t care. Her condescending face told me my words were just words and nothing more. She asked me if I felt like I would be prepared if I were to go back to school. I gave her the honest answer. No. She proceeded to shut down by saying that they’ve never had a problem with a student transferring back and not being prepared. I wanted to stand up and shout in her face that they’ve never had anyone like me before1 I’m completely different than any other kid you’ve imprisoned here! I’m not like them! No matter how much I wanted to, I didn’t. I went back to class feeling defeated, broken, and forgotten.
Every morning at this forsaken hellhole, we have to hand over our phones and our stuff and be searched. Then we are wanded down and our person is searched as well. They check to make sure we don’t have anything on us and to make sure we are in uniform. Our uniform is a white crewneck T-shirt tucked into plain jeans with a brown belt and white tennis shoes. They also look for jewelry as well, because that’s not allowed either. Any fracture of the dress code results in points removed. My shoes are mostly white, but the Nike symbol on them is red and the shox are red as well. I had never been told that my shoes were against dress code, but I watched a kid who had similar shoes on get points off. I couldn’t help but wonder. Why did this kid get in trouble, yet not me? Was it because they had a history with that teacher? Was it because they’d been disrespectful in the past? Or was it simply because the teacher didn’t like that kid and felt like taking points off? I witnessed a similar situation in my geometry class. One kid was sitting down and talking to another kid before the bell had rung. The teacher walked in and began to yell at the kid who was talking. He told the kid to move seats and the kids said he’d stop talking and stay where he was. The teacher then told the kid he was going to lose five points. The kid repeated his request to stay where he was and lost ten points. Then the teacher threatened to send him to the Red Room. The kid reluctantly moved and lost his ten points for that period. What, really, did the kid do wrong to be punished?
What I did to get in trouble is a felony. I was supposed to be expelled for my school and sent to JJAEP, or juvenile detention. The only reason I wasn’t is because I’m close to my assistant principal. She knows me really well, so she went and fought on my behalf. From everything I’d heard about JJ, I assumed it was worse than this hell, way worse, if that’s even possible. I was told that if I’d been sent there, I would’ve been screwed up for life. I believe that. Yet the other day, I heard one of the kids say, “You know, I’ve been to JJ and it’s not that bad. It’s actually kind of fun.” I was shocked. Are you kidding me? Juvenile detention … fun? The sad thing is, half the kids around agreed with his statement. For the millionth time, I wondered how I’d ended up here. Sometimes, I like to pretend that this is all one bad dream, that any second now, I’ll wake up from dozing off in class and everything will be the way it was. I’ll be back at my school where I am safe, and this sick twist of fate never happened. If that’s true though, then I’ve been asleep for twenty-two days now and probably dead. I wish I was dead. But if I am dead, then I’m surely in hell, because this is the farthest thing from heaven.
I hate my geometry class. Everyday there’s another issue. The other day everyone was talking and being stupid and disrespectful. I sat in the back corner, hiding and watching the spectacle. It was ridiculous. The teacher just stood at the front of the room with the point sheets and began to take off points. This continued for the entire period. This is my education? Are they serious? This is my learning environment, for real? I sit in the back and fight tears.
I had a hearing to try to go back to my school. They said no. It’s not fair. I’m the only kid here that wants to go back. I was talking to one of my teachers, the only one who actually cares about the students and is not just about punishing them, about how badly I wanted to go back and all the other kids in that class started to make fun of me. They couldn’t understand why I want to leave this place. I can’t understand why they want to stay, but they do. They proclaim it openly. They want to stay at alternative school because it’s easy. If this place is supposed to be good and corrective, it utterly fails. These kids don’t want to change. They still come to school high, yes this alternative school a still has kids walking around as high as a kite. Kids are supposed to be corrected here? Yeah right! These kids don’t care about change. They’d rather keep doing what they’re doing and stay at alternative school because it’s easy. One kid today was talking about smoking weed out of a bong that was as tall as him last night. Is this for real? These kids end up here and don’t care. One girl said she wants to stay here and graduate early. Another brought cigarettes her last day on purpose in order to get in trouble and stay here. If the purpose of this school is to be corrective, it utterly fails.