The Rollercoaster Ride of my Life, Part 3

Brendan Connelly, Contributing Writer

After nine years at Forum, I was 16 years old and had to leave to go to high school. I would have to make a major decision that fall. In 2003, I had to start high school. I had to decide whether to go to Shepard High School, a Special Education school in Morristown, New Jersey, or go to Northern Valley Regional in Old Tappan. At that time, I felt I was not ready to take on the challenge of going to normal high school. Thus, I chose Shepard and spent three years there.

My behavior and work ethic was great. I did all my homework assignments and stayed on level three, the best level you could be on all the time. I had very nice teachers all three years, but none of them were asked back the next summer. In the third year there, I did not feel I was challenged to the best of my ability. First off, the Science workbooks we got were repeat material we already did the previous year. Then in January, our teacher Mrs. O’Neill left in the middle of the year, and it took until April to get a new teacher. The other thing was that we barely had any homework from the time frame of January-April.

In May of 2006, I had to make another huge decision. Three years earlier I was offered the option of going to Northern Valley Regional High School in Old Tappan. I denied that option then, but this time was different. I was not being challenged enough at Shepard and I felt I was ready for regular high school. However, I was still nervous. It would be the first time in my life I would be going to regular high school. That was the decision that was made in a little IEP meeting with my parents and my case manager Mrs. Beatty. I can still remember sitting in that room discussing everything with them. Everyone agreed that my work ethic was good enough for NVOT. I would be going into NVOT as a Junior. I would spend my last two years of high school there.

CongratulationsIn my first year there, I made honor roll four times and was exempt from all but one final exam. In my last year at NVOT I did well also. I got B’s in almost all my classes. I don’t believe I would have made that decision if it I had not received such support from my Case Manager, Mrs. Beatty, and my parents. I felt comfortable there, because I knew if there was a problem, they were always there for me. In June of 2008, I graduated from NVOT. I felt so happy, because after such a hectic beginning to my life, I was finally able to say I finished high school, and now have a chance at college.