At 17, DeVonna Williams has already overcome many challenges in life. It was just 2 ½ years ago when she reluctantly transferred from Lakeland High School in Rathdrum to Mountain View Alternative High School. But looking back, Williams said it was the best thing for her.
“I was hanging around with the wrong people and didn’t care about academics at all,” she said. “And I was disrespectful to authority.” But all that has changed.
Williams said that at the time she believed – like many – that an alternative high school is an easy way out. But nothing could be further from the truth.
While the smaller class size and more individualized instruction may make it seem easier, she said Mountain View follows the same curriculum as the traditional public schools.
A small class size is a common thread among alternative high schools, but Mountain View differs in class structure. Here, students are enrolled in three two-hour classes that are nine weeks long, while many other schools have six classes at a time. At the end of the year, the number of credits earned is the same.
“It made it much more manageable for me,” Williams said.
Mountain View Principal John Klingaman said Williams stands out in her graduating class for two reasons. First, and what he says is most important, she has made significant changes in her personal life. Secondly, she has excelled in the classroom.
“She’s done an amazing job,” said Klingaman.
This year Williams also was enrolled in a class at Riverbend Professional Technical Academy each morning and earned her certification as a certified nursing assistant. She plans to work as a CNA when she attends North Idaho College this fall.
There she plans to study psychology, specifically developmental psychology.
“I love to work with special-needs kids,” said Williams, who worked last summer at a day camp for kids with special needs and continued on a volunteer basis throughout the school year. “They are so happy no matter what circumstances or disabilities they have. They are so appreciative.”
Having been through treatment for substance abuse and not having used any drugs or alcohol in nearly two years, Williams said she would also be interested in working with people who are going through rehabilitation for substance abuse.
“I know I would have rather listened to someone who has been through it instead of someone who has never touched it,” she said.
In addition to her schooling and volunteer work, Williams has found time to participate in sports. She was in track in ninth grade, and this year was on Lakeland’s varsity track team. She also played volleyball all through high school for Lakeland.
According to Klingaman, Twin Lakes Village Association awards three scholarships each year to seniors graduating from the Lakeland School District. This year, Williams is one of the recipients.
“It is the first time a student from our school has received this scholarship,” said Klingaman, adding that since Williams came to Mountain View 2 1/2 years ago she has maintained a 3.25 grade-point average. “She has been on the honor roll six times.”
As Williams begins the next phase in her life, she will have many supporters along the way. The family with whom she lives has been her foster family almost her whole life and is adopting her.
“I’ve been here off and on since I was 14 months old. They have never given up on me and realize everyone makes mistakes.” she said. Ask her how many siblings she has and there are too many to count. “I consider all the kids who have lived here my siblings.”
She has discovered a lot about herself over the past few years. One of the most important lessons is that she is the one who is responsible for her happiness.
“Things aren’t going to change for me. I have to change myself,” Williams said. “And I cannot change other people either. They have to want to change.”
Although 2 ½ years ago she reluctantly transferred to Mountain View, she is grateful every day for the decision.
“Mountain View is like a family. I am really thankful for everything everyone there has done for me,” she said.