The Cobscook Community High School Program is an interdisciplinary, experiential high school program that provides an alternative educational pathway for high school students in eastern Washington County. Offered in partnership with Calais High School, CCHS is designed to catch students’ interests and spirits and engage them in learning, and is a critical pathway for kids who struggle yet don’t need the intensive services of a mental health program.
When we think of success stories, we think about the individual students and their families who come through our program. We held our graduation ceremony on June 10, 2016 this year. The next day, we received a letter from the mom of one of our graduates. She gave us permission to use her letter. This is an excerpt of what she had to say. While it’s one family’s story, it’s representative of the experiences that many who access our program report.
“I had known about the CCLC’s high school program and although I wasn’t sure it would be a good fit for Dylan, we pursued it as an alternative to the homeschooling [that we did in 10th grade] and public school atmosphere [in 9th grade] that didn’t work for him.
We immediately liked the teachers. They were highly intelligent, supportive, compassionate, and had a wonderful sense of humor. Although Dylan still had severe anxiety, they made him feel comfortable and valued. I felt confident taking him there every day knowing that he really wanted to be there. Dylan’s anxiety and depression slowly took a back seat to his creativity and ability to build strong relationships with his teachers and peers. He got to know and respect each member of the CCLC staff and always spoke highly of everyone. Dylan had found a community where he felt like he belonged and school took on meaning.
Of course his academics, projects, and trips were the activities that built these strong relationships. They took several trips during the school year and literally went all over the state, even out of state. As a boy, Dylan absolutely refused to go to overnight camps so he had anxiety during his first couple of school trips. His teachers were open and committed to making changes for him, even buying an enclosed port-a-potty for camping. This made Dylan feel wanted and needed. He started to love the overnights and picked up some wonderful survival skills.
They also did community service work, hard work outside that took cooperation and communication skills. They created trails and signs that enhanced people’s enjoyment of the outdoors. They learned about issues in their community and met people who were committed to solving those problems. They learned about arts and crafts from the people who were most passionate about it, the artists and crafters. They did their own advertising and fundraising for a semester-long guitar project where they each spent countless hours creating their own instruments. Their work had meaning and purpose. They did not learn to pass a test, they learned to understand their world better, to make their world better and had the experiences to do that.
Dylan graduated from this program last night and although there were many smiles during the ceremony, I can sense the sadness he feels in not having this program to go to every day. For a boy who preferred to stay home than be in school, the CCLC changed that and he hated to miss even one day of school. I do know that he has built some real friendships that will last and found a community where he feels like he belongs. I know he will find reasons to go to the CCLC, to do pottery, work on a film project or to just help out. I am hoping the CCLC will be around for many years to come, to be there for the community and help more kids like Dylan feel valued and loved.”