June 7, 2009 in Idaho Voices

She aims, re-focuses her life

Attending alternative school makes difference for Thornbrugh
By The Spokesman-Review
 
Kathy Plonka photo

Mountain View High School senior Savannah Thornbrugh is shown at the school in Rathdrum on May 13. She said she enjoys photography and hopes to become an X-ray technician.
(Full-size photo)

“Getting rid of the drama,” was the key to success for Mountain View Alternative School senior Savannah Thornbrugh.

That, and a lot of hard work, has taken Thornbrugh from a junior who had fallen so far behind there was no way she could graduate with her class, to a senior who earned enough credits to graduate a quarter early; and gained the respect of her teachers along the way.

Thornbrugh, the daughter of Georgia Beck of Coeur d’Alene and Russ Thornbrugh of Spokane, made the decision to change her life shortly after transferring from Lakeland High School to Mountain View at the beginning of her junior year.

Although her father was not pleased with her decision to switch to an alternative school, he eventually came around when she blossomed into a mature, hard-working student through the support of the staff, and the calmer, less dramatic atmosphere of the smaller school.

“The reason she stands out,” according to school counselor and Principal John Klingaman, “is because she was involved in so many school activities; and she just grew leaps and bounds in her life,” he said of the student who made honor roll six out of eight quarters she attended Mountain View.

Once she let go of a boyfriend who kept her life in turmoil, and decided to ignore the “he said, she said,” that is such a huge part of the high school scene, Thornbrugh said it was just her personality that made her jump in and help with whatever was going on at the school she came to love.

“She did everything,” said Thornbrugh’s drama teacher Mark Gorton. “For the past two years, it didn’t matter whether it was memorizing lines for a play, or taking care of something for an event, or an assignment for another class; Savannah was always doing what it took to be successful – and then excel at it.”

“I loved helping the teachers,” said Thornbrugh. “They’re busy during the day, teaching classes, so it’s nice to be helpful,” said the active student who served as teacher’s assistant for many on staff.

In addition to teacher-assistant duties, Thornbrugh worked on the year book, helped with the activities like the Christmas wreath sale and the food drive, served on the student council, and “did an outstanding job in drama,” Klingaman said.

“You could count on Savannah to get the job done,” Gorton said. “There wasn’t just any one thing, she just excelled in everything,” he said.

Thornbrugh acknowledges she discovered some stuff about herself along the way. “I think you should try new things,” she said. “You don’t know who you are until you know what you like and what things you want to do and what things you don’t want to do.”

But she credits her success to others. As proof of her maturity, she credits a former teacher she “didn’t get along with” at Lakeland, for introducing her to the career path she now intends to follow.

Having flunked every science class she had ever taken until she got to Mountain View, she was not thrilled to learn Linda Williams, a former teacher, had followed her move over to Mountain View.

“We fought almost every day,” she said of Williams, “because I didn’t get it, didn’t want to learn it, didn’t want to do the work and actually didn’t do the work.”

But when Williams joined the staff of Mountain View and Thornbrugh was assigned to her anatomy class, Thornbrugh’s can-do attitude created a new dynamic, and she not only passed, but discovered she “really enjoyed” the subject.

“She made it really easy to learn, but I was open-minded about it and ready to learn, too,” she said. “It was the most fun class I ever took, and some of us absolutely loved her while she was here.”

She also credits John Klingaman, whom students affectionately call, “Kling.”

“He’s almost like a father figure, but like a friend. Mountain View is kind of like a family, and he’s the father. If it wasn’t for Kling, I don’t know where I’d be.”

Lastly, she credits Mountain View Alternative High School itself. “It’s the best school,” said Thornbrugh. “The environment is a much better learning environment, more one-on-one with teachers, and they take the time to explain a lot more. They give the lessons slowly, so you can get on the right track.”

That “right track” Thornbrugh is now following led her to enroll in the X-ray technician program at North Idaho College.

“That anatomy class made me think I wanted to go into the medical field,” she said. “And I may go on. I just learned about another program I could take to further my medical career after I complete the tech course.”


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