I think that in my time attending Quest Academy Charter School in Peoria, Illinois, I've learned more about the world, my fellow students, and myself than any other school I've attended.
Although we were the first charter school in Peoria, we quickly became the envy of the town with our emphasis on student exploration in the STEM subjects, hands-on learning, and focusing on higher education and self-improvement while still maintaining the extracurricular experiences expected of most high schools. These included varsity sports, weekly clubs for interests of all kinds, choral and band opportunities, field trips aplenty, intramural competitions, and talent shows. Coming from a middle-class, African-American family, I've always been told to get my education and to follow a path to success that satisfies my needs as a person and an individual—and Quest supports me in that.
I found that Quest's inviting setting let an introverted person like myself open up and explore my talents with teachers who enjoyed the company of their students enough to spend time on campus after school so they can continue to strive independently and away from distractions at home. My school has truly felt like my home away from home, one in which I can grow and learn as a person and experience things I never could have found on my own. I'd have to send my sincere thanks to all my teachers for that, as well as the excellent staff that kept the building in such beautiful shape. I appreciate the countless opportunities provided that allowed me and my friends to continue to grow closer as friends, as classmates, as a school, and as a community. The gratitude I have for these men and women in my life is beyond words.
In my time as a part of Quest, I've been in three spelling bees, two mathletic competitions, a science fair, art fairs, and even spoken word competitions—never taking the top prize, but always taking home a invaluable experience to carry with me throughout my life. Through my educational experience, I was able bear witness to the excellence that can be achieved in a positive learning environment with staff who wants you there and strive to include you in learning, no matter your previous experience. That there's always more to learn and you'll continue to grow—no matter where you are, in or outside of the classroom. I honestly feel that if I hadn't been in a charter school, I wouldn't have been so blessed to learn this lesson.
Now I look forward to going to college at Elmhurst College near Chicago, Illinois, and I'm extremely excited to see where that'll lead me. But no matter where I'm taken, I know that I'll have the knowledge to continue to go forward in life and succeed.