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North Country Charter graduate Lorriane Morales: “NCCA provided an alternative. I’ll be graduating a year early.”

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Lorraine Morales

Lorraine Morales giving her NCCA graduation speach

This is the third in a series of posts from the North Country Charter Academy graduation Sunday.  Here is Lorraine Morales’ powerful statement about her young life in a tailspin until she found NCCA:

As I walked through the doors and made my way down the stairs every inch of me was nerve struck. I’ve been the new kid plenty of times, and I’ve always hated it. Being ambushed with questions, getting judged, having people tell me who to hang out with and who to avoid, none of that was ever something I enjoyed. But to my surprise, as I touched down from the final stair and walked into the medium sized computer filled room, the others there just carried on with the conversations they were having with each other. No one seemed to give me second look, and that was the moment I knew I was right where I needed to be.

Being gay in the very small 
town of Lancaster 
didn't really go over well.

See, my whole experience with school from third grade on wasn’t really the best. Not academic wise, no my grades were almost always pretty great. But the way other kids treated me, I’ve endured merciless bullying and harassment from third grade right up to now. Being gay in the very small town of Lancaster didn’t really go over well. It’s not like I had a choice, its just who I am, but sometimes people don’t like it when others are different. Getting called names like, he/she, faggot, queer, dyke and more. Being followed down streets while people shouted absurd names and phrases at me. Having dirt thrown at me, and being spit upon. Having to run as fast as I possibly can so I don’t go home with bruises on my face. Having people avoid me like the plague. And the thing I hated most, when people would shallowly whisper, “it’s coming,” being call an “it” is probably what got to me the most. But as you could probably imagine every last one of those things had taken a huge emotional toll on me.

Being completely depressed 24/7 
just wasn't working out very well.

Being completely depressed 24/7 just wasn’t working out very well. I needed to find something, anything to distract myself from the endless nightmare that was now my life. It wasn’t a tough decision to make, my sweet escape from reality needed to be school, as in academics, not the actual place. As the harassment grew worse, I became more and more focused on school, I put up more and more barriers, and I blocked more and more people out. I put a fake smile on my face so no one would know that almost every second of everyday I just wanted to break down and cry, crumble away into a deep dark pit of inescapable depression. By the time my eighth grade year rolled around I was an expert at burying all the hurt I absorbed each day. My grades were amazing, and I was starting to feel alright. But, soon my eighth grade year came to an end, and I needed to prepare myself for high school.

I hated the thought 
of having to be 
in the high school

I hated the thought of having to be in the high school, it honestly scared me to death. The summer seemed to fly by faster than any of my other summers, and then there I was walking through the doors and into my freshman year. I remember the first few days; they were alright, nothing really. And so I let myself believe that high school wasn’t going to be any worse than middle school. It was actually quite the opposite. As weeks went by, the bullying picked back up, and it was now worse than ever. It had gotten so bad that guidance had to start switching my classes.  I couldn’t eat in the lunch room; I ate in the guidance office. Soon I became afraid, I was afraid to go to school. I started pretending to be sick to stay home.

I started pretending 
to be sick 
to stay home.

When I was finally forced to return to school, I decided now would be a pretty good time to talk to my guidance counselor about The North Country Charter Academy.

NCCA provided me with 
an educational alternative, 
and I'll be graduating a year early.

NCCA provided me with an educational alternative, and because they did, I’ll be graduating a year early. I couldn’t be more thankful to this program; it helped me so much. NCCA didn’t only help me academically; being here helps me with my confidence.  I do well here, I excel and nobody bothers me ever.  So when I go home, I don’t go home angry, hurt, and hating the world anymore. I go home happy, and proud of myself. My life at home isn’t always great, lots of stuff happens a lot, and I wish it wouldn’t. But with me being in The North Country Charter Academy, I can work through my problems that l have at home.  I know that every last one of these teachers are here for me, I know they care, and they are so supportive. The staff here at Charter help me see the bright side; they send me home with a smile on my face everyday. So even though my home life isn’t the greatest, this program, and the staff behind it have helped me work through things. My home life is better than it was a year ago, and my attitude towards life in general has ·changed so much, they are both so much better.

I don't go home angry, 
and hating the world anymore.

If it wasn’t for this program I would probably be one of those kids who dropped out of high school, eventually managed to get their GED, and then went on having a life they never really wanted. But now I’m going to get my high school diploma, I’m going to go to college and I’m going to make an amazing life for myself, and I have NCCA to thank for that. And I know that the teachers that were here for me through out my high school experience are still here for me. Even after today, after graduating I know that if I were to call, if I needed her&, support or just someone to talk to, that they would all be here for me. And I couldn’t be more grateful.

I just wanted to give a few thank yous before finishing up here.

You all keep me smiling

Thank you again to the NCCA staff. You honestly have helped me through a lot, you all keep me smiling, and you lend an ear when I need someone to talk to.

You listen and you care

Mr. K, you’re always making me feel so good about myself and what I can do. You never had a doubt on my abilities to succeed, and you expressed that to me a lot. You listen and you care, and I’m thankful to have had you as a teacher.

Mrs. Rider, you’re always making me feel so good about my writings. And you’re also there when I need someone to talk to. When we talk I’m able to get my mind off things, and it’s just helped me so much. Thank you.

Mr. Kelly, you, well you make me laugh, you’re always smiling and joking and just making my day a lot more happy. I could come to school upset or in a bad mood and you would have that changed in a second, and after every time we talk everything always just seems a little brighter. Thank you.

I need to thank my old Probation Officer

I need to thank my old Probation Officer, Debbie Eskadel. She’s been so supportive.  Even after she was done working with me, she was never really done. She still came to see me and make sure everything was going ok. Even when she didn’t see me, just knowing I had her there as a support if anything ever went wrong was good enough.  And without her, it would have been a lot longer before I got back into Charter. She helped get me back in there; she gave that small push that changed my life. Thank you so much.

I also need to thank my Step-father, Tim. He’s just been so supportive; he’s been here for me every step of the way. So thank you Tim for everything.

And thank you to everyone else who has been here supporting me through everything.  With out some of the people I’ve had supporting me, and helping to pull me out of my depression, I’d be and emotional mess. So thank you to my friends, especially my best friend Ashley who’s been here for me from the start, and she’s even here today supporting me. Thank you to my family, my Aunt Karen, my grandmother and grandfather, my siblings, and everyone else. You all keep me smiling and encourage me to do and be the best I can.

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