The Community School defines itself as “a school of choice where every student can flourish in a personalized learning environment.” And for graduating senior Megan McHale, that’s exactly what it turned out to be.
McHale started her high school career at North Central and attended NC for all of her freshman year and a couple of months as a sophomore. But a persistent illness during 10th grade caused serious attendance issues, and at one point she even considered dropping out.
That’s where the Community School came in. McHale had attended a presentation during middle school that familiarized her with the program, but none of her friends was planning to attend Community and she moved on to NC instead. After her illness, though, she met with counselors at North Central and the Community School and made the transition.
“It was a huge adjustment,” she said, “going from a traditional school to one where I had to become a self-starter and a lot more of an independent learner than I’d ever been. But I caught on really fast and it turned out to work better for me. Being able to control my own learning was something I didn’t even know I was looking for until I found it.
“I think that I probably would have graduated if I’d gone back to NC, but coming here really opened my eyes to all the opportunities I have. I’ve learned that I can do what I want, and I’ve learned to reach higher.”
McHale is enrolled as a part-time Running Start student at Spokane Falls Community College. She will attend Spokane Community College next year in the diagnostic medical sonography program. Her interest in the medical field bloomed last year when she completed a wellness project centered on healthy eating and the paleo diet, sparked by curiosity about the impact of diet on her mother’s multiple sclerosis symptoms.
McHale researched her topic for several months, interviewed a dietician, wrote an essay and eventually presented her work at a Native Project wellness night. She’s a member of the Peoria Tribe.
“Learning about the human body is my passion,” she said. “I was always kind of interested in health care, but after my project last year, I knew that field is exactly where I want to be.”
McHale’s dedication and perseverance are what helped her stand out from the crowd, says Bobbi Konshuk, her adviser at the Community School.
Those are qualities she has needed to succeed during a challenging senior year, which began when she moved from her home to live with a friend. In addition to classes at the Community School and SFCC, she’s working in the Child Watch program at the YMCA and training six days a week at the Spokane Boxing Club.
“I turned 18 right after school started this year, and I guess I just wanted more independence,” she said of her move.
She hadn’t boxed before but was hooked when she went to the boxing club with a friend’s father. “It’s a release, a way of getting things out,” she said. “But more than that, it’s like a little family, a place where I belong. I’ve only had practice bouts so far, but I’m hoping to compete soon.
“More than anything else, I want to be an inspiration to younger kids. I want them to know that you should never give up on what you want to do.”
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