My dad’s been in and out of jail all my life. I didn’t even meet him till I was four. When he’s home, he tries to be a good dad, but it’s hard for him. My mom and dad have been married three times to each other and divorced twice. Right now, they are married so between him and my five brothers, things can get pretty crazy at home.
In junior high, I got to be a pretty good fighter, but it ended up getting me suspended. Then I got kicked off the football team my freshmen year, and I love football. I finally got expelled, and started hanging out with the wrong kids, drinking, smoking. I knew I had to make a change, because things were going nowhere and I really didn’t want to end up in jail like my dad or some of my brothers.
I came to Hanna the first time when I was 14. My youth pastor at church told me about Hanna, and she actually came with my mom and me when we checked it out. My first few months I got into 13 fights. I was too angry to be here. I couldn’t play sports because of my fighting, so I ended up leaving.
I tried to go back to my old school but, long story short, I basically had to do independent study at home my junior year. That was hard because I didn’t have any discipline and no one was teaching me so my grades just tanked. Then I decided to come back to Hanna.
The great thing about Hanna is they meet you where you are. It’s not one-strike-and-you’re-out, or even three strikes. The staff here have really helped me figure out better ways to express myself and relate to people.
I’ve made a ton of progress. First my grades started improving, a lot. Then I started playing sports again — football, basketball, baseball — because I could burn off energy and turn around bad feelings. A big turning point was getting an internship at a local hotel, which was awesome.
Yes, I still have challenges, and going home can be a real test sometimes, especially when my dad’s there. But overall, Hanna’s been a huge help. I don’t explode on other people like I used to. I don’t drink or smoke anymore. I’m getting As and Bs in school again. I got a 1160 on the SAT, which I’m pretty proud of. I’m graduating this year and I already got accepted to Humboldt State. I’m planning to study criminal justice or psychology in college.
If I could describe how I’ve changed since I came to Hanna in three words, they would be “enthusiastic,” “persevering” and “caring.”