Operation Graduation 2013: Jeff Morrow (Chicago)

It takes four years to get a high school diploma in most cases. It takes another two-four years to get a degree in a field of study. Tell me why Ombudsman has made me into a better person, tell me why I got to work at my own pace (which is faster than most) and get on the road to early graduation. Finishing junior year a month and a half early, and senior year will be done early October, I’ll graduate eight months before everyone else in my class. It took a lot of hard work, a lot of boring days sitting at a computer maxing out on lessons left and right, finishing some classes that were not my cup of tea, in the end all it took was a little push in the right direction, some guidance from my teachers, and I was off to the road to perdition, and becoming an adult early on like I’ve always wanted. To prove to myself and my parents and everyone else that I can not only push to get done, but to prove that I am a smart, responsible, and a well educated young man that is more than capable of handling himself. All the while I would be going to COD, working full time 35-40 hours a week, paying bills, living with some buddies, and getting educated.

Ombudsman has provided me a full boat schedule of work everyday since the first time I was here as a Sophomore (and got a year of Geometry done in a semester so I wouldn’t need to take it when I got back-that’s when I learned that if you push yourself great things are possible), I was immediately enthralled with the program. I found myself; I learned that as long as you put in the effort the reward will follow. Being a student in public school is different; there are more expectations, drama, social standards, just a mess of things that at Ombudsman, you don’t need to even think of. The only thing I need to do on the daily basis (which isn’t hard AT ALL) is being my A game. The glory of it all, as long as the student knows where he/she is at, then if you’re not feeling up to doing work one day that’s OKAY, it won’t affect you as bad as say being in public school, not doing anything, and you fall behind. So long as you get classes done throughout the week, you’ll be fine. This process has challenged me to do great things, seeing that it’s more than possible to get more than the expected done, to push yourself to new limits, and be something that you didn’t see yourself as before, a success. It’s amazing the feeling I got when I went back to WCCHS after taking that math class, I didn’t need to take math for the rest of the year! Every other student was complaining about the geometry homework every night they received, when I did twice as many lessons than I needed to, it sucked, but paid off once I got back, the feeling was indescribable. Now, getting out of school almost a year early, you can’t even begin to fathom the intensity of my happiness, my self-made success story. The down side was there is no social aspect to Ombudsman, and being a social person it really takes a toll on you, so I fit it in whenever possible. I knew going into this however though, and as a result knew that as long as I pushed myself and actually came back for a reason-a purpose; it would all be worth the time, the yearning to be in the company of friends, and the hardship endured as a result of going to an alternative school. The positives outweighed the negatives is what I told myself in the beginning, I knew this going in that would mean hardly any social life from here on out until I graduated, (more of a reason to push to get out), so I did what was the most sensible, and pushed, and pushed.

Immediately following early graduation I will be a new college freshman. I intend on going to COD and getting a degree in business, to take my parent’s self-proclaimed success and turn it into a “Serving you since” or a “Family owned and operated since” sort of business. I’m the first in my family to graduate early, go to college, and be prepared to move out within months of turning 18, fully capable nonetheless; with two jobs already and a car that I bought and under my name, I have a better idea of being an adult than most others in my immediate friend group (some are still living at home in their twenties with NO job experience). A lot of the other kids I went to school with ridiculed me early on, never gave me a chance, pushed me aside, and generally just didn’t like me for one reason or another. Now the time has come to be that one in a million, to step up to the plate and be more of a success and better prepared person than those that would graduate in June. I’ve tried and tried for so long to finally be ready to be independent, and be able to hold my own, and it’s looking like a possibility more and more every day.

All I want to say is thank you. It took a lot of hard work to be where I am now, and a lot of different problems that had to be addressed because of it. There were some bumps in the road where I was unable to go to school for weeks because of one thing or another (a total of  10 weeks if I recall correctly), but yet with the help of you my teachers, was able to get back and ahead of everyone in short amount of time. There are countless instances that I can remember that I’ve received help for lessons I couldn’t quite do on my own, the daily list Miss Tubbs made me everyday, the coordinating and help on Mrs. McLaughlin’s end, and Mr. Wilcox explains things so well, just the teamwork here is incredible. It helped me immensely to get to where I am now. The things that I took away from being here would not come from any other place, it teaches you to manage your work, shows you to take responsibility, and to just jump right in and go for it head on. If the only thing I came here for was the fact that I was kicked out of school, then sure I might be doing the bare minimum, maybe a little more, but surely not enough to get done and out of school like this. Coming here on my own terms, I had the full intention on getting things done, but I had no idea what was possible. I thought finishing an extra semester worth of work in a semester was good, I’ve finished more classes in the least amount of time possible I believe, the amount of work that has been done is hard to ponder. I told my mom to call more than once just because I knew she wouldn’t believe me on how much work that I’ve done. Again, words can’t express my gratitude and thankfulness to my teachers here, and years past, thinking back on it; my teachers (and staff in general) were really the only ones who believed in me. It took a while to realize that, but for the amount of teachers that have told me that I’m capable of greatness, I doubted them, the amount of teachers that said I can achieve success if I really put my mind to it, I doubted them. It took me up until this point of typing this that I realized of all the wonderful people and teachers that helped me along, and truly cared and believed in me. I can’t begin to say how thankful I am for all the help in becoming who I am today.

Of all the things that I’ve experienced in my life, I think going to school is definitely the best story of all. The utter hate and repulsion I had for the proper institute of education is mind boggling, I would spit on the floor of the high school on a good day being there. I’ve turned around my feeling towards learning, and school 180°. It took more than one occasion for me to learn that school isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world; Ombudsman has created a better learning experience for me, and I’ve become a better person because of coming here. I wouldn’t be where I am, or where I’m going without it helping me through high school, and again for that, I thank you.