My name is Diana Cobas, and I am a senior at International Studies Charter High School (ISCHS). My school has not only challenged me academically, but has also been a home to me for the last three years. Its unique academic programs, passionate professors, and diverse students, have made my experience at this charter school incredibly fulfilling.
My school was founded by the French, Italian, and Spanish consulates. Students in our school can choose to study in any of these languages and earn both an American diploma as well as a diploma from one of these respective countries. We have teachers and students from across the world coming together to teach and learn in our school. This attribute made a tremendous difference to me, as I’ve only been in the U.S. for three years.
I attended a traditional public high school for about a week when I first arrived in this country. I felt as though I was lost in the shuffle, one of thousands of students just going through the motions. There was no way I’d ever speak up or flourish when I felt so nameless in class. Luckily, my family found ISCHS. From the start, ISCHS students were friendly and teachers made an effort to welcome me. I knew this was the place for me. Not once was I ashamed to speak up in class and reveal my Cuban accent, because all of the students here have an accent of some sort! This sense of belonging gave me the courage to be a leader in my school—I have been President of the Class of 2016 for two years and an active member of various clubs. I’m sure I would’ve been okay in my previous high school, but I’m certain I’d never have come as far as I have with ISCHS.
Unlike most schools, ISCHS is relatively small. Our size makes it easier for students to not only make friends, but also feel like a family. I know just about everyone in my school, and this helps me feel safe, supported, and valued. The teachers in my school take the time to get to know the students, and embrace all of our cultural and personal differences.
Truly, in the beautiful mosaic that is ISCHS, I have found a place I can call home. I have made friends I know will be there for me whenever I need them, met classmates who have inspired me, and have had teachers who have guided me with personalized attention. I could never have had that experience anywhere but here. This unique school has not only opened its doors for me, but also has taught me the values of acceptance, friendship, and equality, giving me and my classmates the confidence to succeed in the world. It doesn’t matter where I go, ISCHS will always be a part of my life. The school has prepared me to be a leader, but most importantly, an openhearted, understanding member of society.
This month, thousands of high school students will graduate from charter schools across the county. We are so impressed by everything that these students have accomplished and can’t wait to see what the future holds. Check back here every day to see a new charter school graduate in our 30 Days of Grad series. Want to share your story? Join the conversation using #30DaysOfGrad.