June 3, 2010 in Washington Voices

Caleb Mohr nearly threw his life away

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Jesse Tinsley photo

Caleb Mohr, a senior at Shadle Park High School, is graduating this spring.
(Full-size photo)

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It’s going to be a busy commencement season for the Mohr brothers of Spokane. Johnathon, 23, is graduating in computer science from Western Washington University; Joshua, 21, is graduating in business from Eastern Washington University; and Caleb, 18, is getting his diploma from Shadle Park High School.

It’s an especially sweet moment for Caleb Mohr, considering that a year ago, he was failing just about everything and was on the brink of dropping out.

“You know that kid who, back as early as second grade, doesn’t want to try, is always distracted and who wants to be outside playing?” Mohr asked. “Well, that’s me. School has never been easy for me.”

Aware that he had issues with attention – finally diagnosed as ADHD when he was in middle school – he just kept at it, refusing to succumb to the thought of dropping out.

“But then in my junior year, my grades were so low and I knew I wouldn’t graduate anyhow,” Mohr said. “It was a dead end for me. I wasn’t interested in learning. I was skipping more and more classes, so why stay?”

Then a friend told him about the NET, a credit-waiver program designed as a safety net for students not having success in high school. Students focus intensely on skill areas, not specific subjects, working both on computer and in small-group settings. Mohr’s parents and girlfriend encouraged him to give it a try.

“At first, I thought it was just something that would take my summer away from me,” Mohr said, “but then it occurred to me that not graduating from high school could be throwing my life away, so if all that came out of it was just throwing my summer away, it might at least be worth giving it a shot.”

Once he turned on to the idea, he was relentless. Because all the spaces were taken for the summer, he had to fight to secure a place. “I’d go to Megan Decker (guidance counselor at Shadle) every day and push, push, push,” he said. That paid off, and when a spot opened, he got it.

“It’s weird, but once I started to fight for it, I was so happy to get in,” Mohr said.

And the NET worked for him. “It was boot camp to get me ready for my senior year. It gave me a fresh start and a chance to get my diploma. It’s still tough keeping my grades up now, but I will pass.”

A young man of boundless energy, Mohr especially enjoys applying that energy to free running, a kind of urban acrobatics in which a runner moves through, in and over the obstacles in his path with grace and fluidity. “It’s fun to do and perfect for me,” Mohr said. “If you’ve got the talent, just go and do it.”

He has talents in other areas as well. He’s been a model (Models for Awareness, supporting a charity), done some acting in high school productions and plays drums. He hopes to be able to do something career-wise with his music after high school.

The whole family – including parents Ron and Theresa and sister Rebecca, 15 – attend Spokane Faith Center. “Even with all the things I’ve gone through, with learning, with being picked on so badly in sixth grade, being robbed at knifepoint in seventh grade, I know that God said I am valuable,” Mohr said. “He is my provider and guides my steps.”

Caleb Mohr is also grateful to be where he is today, on the threshold of his high school diploma: “I am so grateful that people didn’t give up on me right when I was ready to give up on myself.”

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