Sydnee Boutelle

Asking for help has never been easy. Instead of asking for help, I would suffer in silence. I would try to do work on my own when I clearly needed the help. I could never figure out why I was so adamant about not asking for help. But one day it finally dawned on me. Before I came to Renaissance I attended another school in Los Angeles called Pilgrim school. When I started there we didn’t know I had ADD and how it affected my learning. In 2nd-grade I had a strict teacher who was short-tempered. I would have a hard time sitting still and focusing on the lesson which would bother her. I would space out during class or be more focused on the things going on outside the classroom. It affected my work and my parents didn't understand what was going on. 

After the summer of 2nd grade, we found out I had ADD, Attention Deficit Disorder. I got good grades, A’s and B’s, but school was still hard for me because I tried to memorize everything. I was struggling in and outside of the classroom. I dealt with bullying from my classmates and whenever I would ask for help from my teachers I was told to solve it on my own. The teachers brushed aside my struggles so I finally decided that asking for help did nothing. After fifth grade, my family moved from Malibu to Rancho Palos Verdes, meaning I had to switch schools, something I was dreading. But, they did so because they heard about this great school in the South Bay which helped kids like me who learned differently. We looked at many schools but in the end, Renaissance was the best school for me. 

I was an anxious mess on the first day of school. I didn’t want to talk to anyone and I was determined to avoid making any friends or getting close to anyone. But that didn’t exactly happen and I met some amazing people that first year. Through the year I was able to find strategies to help me through the school year. I got number lines and multiplication sheets in math class. In English, I would  get a reader or someone to write for me. These have helped me with my learning process. Being at Renaissance helped me understand that I was a visual and hands-on learner. Now that I understand what I need to do I no longer have to use those accommodations. 

Six years later, my experience at the school has been nothing but supportive and encouraging. During my school years I dealt with a lot of procrastination and it would cause me to fall behind in class and I would drown in work. The main reason my work got better was because my mom threatened to keep me home and not allow me to attend college since she didn’t want the same behavior to continue. That was the push I needed to start working harder. I had to learn how to trust and allow people to help me with my school life and my mental health 

For example, when I was in 10th grade my parents went to China for three weeks. I was staying with friends and family but I struggled with depression during those three weeks. I was anxious and worried about what would happen to my parents. But I masked those feelings and focused on keeping my friends happy as a distraction. Once they got home I was able to see my therapist where she told me I dealt with depression. Talking about my feelings made me feel ten times better and it felt good to finally open up. I mention this story because there are going to be days, weeks or months where you feel like things have gone downhill and that’s ok to have those days. We all have days where we just feel like we’re feeling on our lowest. But those days will pass, keep your head up and do your best to find things that bring you joy and happiness. 

I’ve had so many great teachers who’ve supported me even when I was at my worst. I’ve met great friends who have stuck with me through it all. And, I’ve learned that I can do so much more than I believed I could. I just need to push myself to work hard and keep up with it. The big lesson to learn is that it's ok to reach out for help especially when you are struggling with work or mental health.