When William Harrington, 18, was a child just starting school, he did not get along with his peers.
“I felt they were too childish,” said the young man about to graduate from Map High School, a Spokane Public Schools alternative school.
Although he was good at math, Harrington hadn’t done well in school and didn’t like reading or writing and had been in physical confrontations. He was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. But he later learned he was misdiagnosed. Harrington said he’s doing better now that he’s no longer taking medication for ADHD.
School is not an especially comfortable place for him, but Map creates an environment with less conflict because it offers more flexibility and has smaller class sizes “where everyone knows you,” he said.
Harrington has limited contact with his mother and has lived with his father, George Harrington, since he was 12. The two of them have worked together to figure out how to create an environment that allows William to achieve success by concentrating on his strengths and goals. In the mornings, Harrington attends the Newtech Skill Center, where he works on computer animation and design. In the afternoons, he attends Map, and from about 3:30 to 8 p.m. six days a week he works with his father stocking shelves at Fairchild Air Force Base.
He works out daily, enjoys video games and likes to scavenge for wood and metal so he can make swords and other objects. He has a cane he crafted out of a tree root at home.
Although almost everyone in his family has been in the military, including his father, an ex-Marine, Harrington does not plan to pursue that path for himself.
“I have general respect for anyone in positions of authority, police officers, members of the military and for everybody, actually,” he said.
He hopes to be able to attend college to study computer game animation. With Choctaw Nation heritage, he hopes to earn tribal scholarship funding to help that dream come true.
Lori Waldo, a teacher at Map, said the change in Harrington has been wonderful to see.
“When he came to us he was struggling with focus and completing his coursework, but he took the initiative himself to get his work done,” Waldo said. “He is a very creative person, and I’m excited to see where he goes and what he does in the future.”
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