An open letter to my daughter ‘s High School

I left Corona Del Sol High School yesterday, seeing RED…. I could not believe that this is what academics has become. This lazy group of half wits with no accountability what so ever. I vented a little on camera, came home, calmed myself and explained to my daughter what her teachers said… she would have been better off turning in something half assed. Her efforts and hard work did NOT pay off… as we teach in our home.

After sleeping on this, I thought I would calm a little… maybe the turrets would die down a little. (I was wrong, but I will keep the swearing to a necessary minimum in this post.) I just woke even more bothered and utterly disappointed in the Tempe Union School System. Everything about the school is disappointing. So much that I considered writing the admins an email and telling them so. But then again, I already spoke to a couple of their brick wall representatives yesterday and the other day when I went in… I’m done talking to the brick walls. 

So let me tell you a couple stories about the Tempe Union High School, Corona Del Sol.

I’ll skip the stories from other parents, like when the school lost my friends daughter on a trip and did nothing about finding her, and stick with my own stories.

A few months ago, my daughter had an issue with a girl at school. Every day, she’d come home with another story about this girl’s antics and how she was scared to be around her and her severe ups and downs. The day before a school trip to Sedona, my daughter received a call from a friend that had just gone to see the girl and she had tried cutting her own wrists in front of them. Wanting to do the right thing… We talked to my daughter and suggested that she go to the teacher and give him the heads up that this girl may be suicidal. The last thing we wanted was for her to try to make an exit from a high mountain in Sedona or Jerome… and much less take my daughter with her. By the time my daughter arrived at school, the girl had been informed that the teachers knew about her issue, and the girl immediately knew it was my daughter that had reported it. Good job guys! For this day long trip, my daughter was living a nightmare, on a bus and out of town, with a girl that wanted to kill her and herself, and a teacher who was bringing some uncomfortable attention to the whole situation. 

The next day, my daughter was dragged in and out of the office, as the school was ever so subtle about the incident. The incident which suddenly became more important due to another student at the school tragically being more successful with his suicide attempt. It seems that only after the fact, do they take these things seriously. Which, you would assume would be more of a priority, after a child shot himself ON campus only 2 years back. 

In my attempts to calm the situation, I spoke to brick walls in the office who tried to explain their way out of responsibility, claiming they were doing everything to keep my daughter anonymous. Does dragging her into the office during class seem anonymous to you? The staring, pointing, whispering and rumors going on have alluded to this not being the case. How are kids supposed to feel safe about making these reports when the school clearly can’t handle them? I know as a teen, I did as little to draw attention to me as possible. If I were to believe that this would be how I was treated, I’d never report a thing. My daughter was told from one of the brick walls, that she handled everything wrong. That’s correct…She was told that she handled the situation wrong, and that she should have been there for the girl as a friend rather than exaggerating the situation as it was.   WHAT?! They weren’t friends, but the brick wall thinks this is all her fault?

Fast forward, and small side note….the office bricks have also been working on convincing my daughter that graduating early is bad….Gee…you guys gonna miss the $$ from the state when she’s gone? Take it out of the Art Chair’s paycheck.

Which brings me to yesterday’s situation….

I’ve had kids in school for about 14 years now. Not once have I ever been the parent to step in and fight for my childs work or grade. I’m about the furthest thing from a helicopter mom you can get! When they come home claiming the teacher is picking on them or doing this or that, I defend the teacher and explain that everything may not be what they think.  But here’s a little background. My husband and I were no scholars… we both got through school with passing grades and thought nothing more of it. Neither of us went to college and before you nit pick my writing, english was not my best class. Our kids turned out to be great at school and I give them kudos for that. My daughter, in particular though… She is the self challenging, academic nut of the house. To her, good enough is not good enough. She has always challenged herself to do better than her last grade… she is frustrated with less than perfect, she studies her butt off with self motivating awards that she gifts herself when she succeeds in her personal challenges.  She does so in such a way that over a year ago, she looked into her classes and said, I bet I can graduate early… 

In High School she has rearranged her schedule (so much so that the office bricks are probably tired of seeing her now) to accommodate the most academic and beneficial schedule for her future. She has strategically chosen honors and AP classes, taken dual enrollment classes, and has dual enrolled in online high school. So for her THREE years of high school, most of it has been grueling and for anyone else, nearly impossible to keep up with, but she has managed to stay above water, keep her grades in the A’s and B’s range and continue to be one of the happiest, bubbly teens I’ve known. 

She starts her day at 6am, taking herself to school in the car that she bought with her own money, saved since she was about 8yrs old. She goes through 7 hours of honors/ap/college course classes, comes home, eats (because corona feels that 10 am is lunch time), does a couple hours of online high school, goes to work (some days at her job, some days for her father, some days she reaches out to people for babysitting jobs) or occasionally joins a friend for support, as she is the ‘rock’ in her little group. Then she comes home, helps at the house, does her own laundry, goes to study or work on projects and usually goes to bed somewhere between 11:30 and 12:30 to start it all over again. On the weekends, she also works on her online schooling… over the summer, she did construction work and on her lunch breaks did her online schooling… after work, she read her Honors literature reading assignments for the next year.  
Her dream is to open her own business, so much so that she has been planning college for a few years, even bugging the college she plans to attend for the last 2 years, trying to get them to help her prepare. They’re not accustom to this, clearly, so she’s been helping them through this.  And with all this, she’s been planning grants and scholarships, as well as putting aside more money than any kid I know, so that she’s ready to be on her own, and have college taken care of… she does all this with intention, drive and more responsibility than I see in most adults. 

I tell you all of this because I want you to understand, this girl is not an average student. She’s not an excuse maker. She holds herself to a higher standard than we or the school ever could. But Corona, and their bricks let her down this year, in a big way. When it comes to her elective course, she chose photography. With careful consideration (and me pushing her to do at least one class she would enjoy), she chose to do photography because it allowed her schedule to include the honors, and the dual enrollments, including the photography, which would count as one of her college electives as well. No class would go unscrutinized and every one would have a dual purpose, in her plan. All year, she has worked closely with the instructor, learning developing and photo alterations. She’s done every extra credit and has aced all of her assignments. She’s become an amazing photographer and she’s prided herself on this class maintaining a 100%, which as she has expresses helps her GPA. (which she’s been obsessed with since jr high, planning for college). 

Her final exam this semester was for her to take 2 photos that represent Diplomacy.  She would come home frustrated because the class brain storming sessions would be a bust, claiming she was the only one in her group trying to do the work instead of socializing… shocker, as I was that other teen in school. She finally came to us, frustrated and running out of time and explained the project. She was under the impression that Diplomacy meant to learn, in groups. So we took the opportunity to explain what diplomacy was and finally… she got it and knew what she would do with her project. 

Over the next few days, in between schools and jobs, she would take pictures, trying out lighting, building props and stands, editing photos and barely being seen, as shockingly she also had other finals that week too and was also studying all night for those. The day came to have the photos printed and my daughter, the ever thoughtful one, stayed home to help me set up and throw my company’s first annual Holiday party. Believing she was doing the responsible thing, she helped the family and asked a friend to pick up her prints and meet her in the morning before school.  Bad decision? Yep… but she believe it was the right thing at the time. If I were in her shoes, I probably would have as well. 

As life happens, and should not be an excuse… her photos were 15 minutes late to class. She was deserving of a ZERO for her final exam, according to her teacher.  Now, the reason I told you all that babble before was because of this… I don’t excuse tardiness. I don’t allow my kids to make excuses. I teach them to be fair, honest and truthful and the right thing will happen. 
In this case, Corona’s teachers taught her the wrong meaning of the word diplomacy. The instructor ignored her while she waited outside his door hoping for help, and several other times she tried to go to him outside of class. She hopelessly tried to throw together a project that she was not happy with, but we stepped in and encouraged her to go a different route. We encouraged her to do her best and not half ass a final project. She juggled too much and let something slip… and what did she get from it? Screwed… by her instructor and the bricks at Corona. 

Now, I make no excuse for the work being late… But where is the school’s accountability? The project included the kids presenting their work. However, when the teacher didn’t manage his time well enough to allow for that, he was able to change the assignment. Right as the kids were leaving class before Christmas break, he was able to change the assignment from presentation to written paragraph. So, the instructor can change the assignment because of misuse of time… but the teenager with a well thought out project, who happened to be juggling a million responsibilities can’t make up for 15 minutes? 

In my meeting with the teacher, I asked and reiterated that my daughters mistake was taking the time to thoughtfully do her final project. When in fact, she could have taken any picture and as long as it was turned in prior to that 7:25 bell, she would have kept her immaculate record. If she had done as others did and turned in photos of rice, or water glasses, with the instructor guided presentation leading to HOW those things could possibly represent Diplomacy… (cause he’s an artist after all) Then, she would have gotten a 100%…. ????  The answer was yes btw. Corona’s Photography class is not about technique. It’s not about understanding assignments. It’s not about learning… It’s simply a participation grade. If you do ANYTHING, you get credit. So, ok, maybe now her 100% record in that class isn’t as impressive as it was earlier in the story… but when you take a kid, who has been SO driven and SO hard working, and you tell them that everything they’ve been doing has been for nothing, what are you teaching them? This isn’t a student that habitually slacks off and waits till the last minute… or as the large brick in front of me explained… “she should have managed her time better”  This is a kid that has more discipline and motivation in her little finger than this idiot has in his entire body! But they take no responsibility for their own fault of not educating the class on diplomacy. They take no responsibility for their own time management. They take no responsibility for their change in projects. Because according to them, it didn’t matter. Anything stuck to a mat board at 7:25 was sufficient. 

So good job Corona. Way to educate, guide, lead, inspire… or whatever the heck you call what you’re doing to these kids. For anyone out there, that made it all the way through my rant… congratulations, you deserve a Corona Del Sol participation award. But if you’re also considering putting your kids into this school… I wouldn’t. I’m cutting my rant short…This is NOT the stellar school you thought it was.

Below are my daughters actual projects and her explanations, because if I were in your shoes, I’d want to see this work I just rambled on about.






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