My heart aches, tears are rolling down my cheeks. As we are starting a program in one of our high schools, I was told that a student I worked closely with last year dropped out of school, a semester before she was supposed to graduate. It hit me hard and I am not able to fully explain it. All I truly know is I will miss that special girl. We worked together on a weekly basis. She was part of Bulldog’s leadership program and in my small group. I devoted extra time to listen to her. She was smart, beautiful, inspiring, and funny. She had her guard up, but for some reason, she let me in. We would talk about her home life and she would share the difficulties of being a teenager. Her challenges are beyond what I could ever comprehend. There was violence in her home, little supervision, as well as drugs and alcohol. I once cried with her as she shared her deepest fears. I cried as a mom, a daughter, and as a Bulldog staff. All she wanted was to be loved and I felt helpless. I did the best I could to engage her and be my authentic self. I shared with her my fears about being a new mom and working all the time. I shared with her the story of loosing my brother to violence. I opened up to her as much as she did with me. I was concerned that she could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. She had so many challenges at home that impacted her schoolwork. It would distract and hinder her from being present in the classroom.
It was a shock not to see Bella at the start of our program after the holiday season. I wish I could reach out; I wish she would reach out to me. I wish she would give herself a chance at success. Currently, there is not a way I can reach out to her, but if I had a chance, if I had one opportunity to share my thoughts, this is the letter I would share with her.
I heard you dropped out of school and I hope you are doing ok. I am not writing to tell you what to do, but I am writing out of concern. I am concerned because I care about you. I don’t know what you are doing and I can’t imagine the things you have been through, but I am here to say that it will get better. I believe that you have the choice to make it better. Life is full of choices. Often we make mistakes, but we sometimes have an opportunity to fix or undo some of the bad choices we make. Just think about the choices you are making. Are they impacting your future? What kind of life do you want for yourself?
There are resources out there and people that care about you and want to see you succeed. Sometimes we can’t see past the bad around us; it takes time. But there are good people out there. I see them everyday. I am one of them. I am your biggest fan. Bella, if you come back to school, I will help you get past this dark time. I will be there to listen and give you ideas to help you heal. Bulldog can show you all the different options and resources that are available to you.
I hope that you take this time off school to heal. I hope you choose to get a job and stay away from the gang scene. Please stay away from drugs. Just stay clean. I also hope you see how strong and beautiful you are, so please don’t let any guy take advantage of you. I wish for you to look beyond the daily grind and see that you can make a life for yourself out here. There is so much you can do. To be able to have these opportunities, Bella, you need to go back to school. High school sucks, I know, but it gives you the foundation to build a better life. Just push a little longer and survive senior year. Apply to college or even look into community college. Go see your guidance counselor and ask about grants available. Look into moving away and do some volunteer work. You’ll gain a fresh perspective and with your big heart you will also help make the world a better place.
You are meant for greatness! I hope this letter finds you, Bella.
Be Brave * Be Strong * Be a Bulldog
Until Next Time…