It took three years for Noah Miller to find the right academic fit, but when he arrived at Medical Lake Alternative High School last fall, he knew that was it.
Miller still lives in Reardan, where he’d attended school all his life, but after his junior year convinced his parents to allow him to transfer to Medical Lake. It’s been a great senior year for him.
“I had wanted to come here earlier,” he said. “I have a couple friends from Reardan who’ve been here, and they really enjoyed it. They probably weren’t going to graduate if they’d stayed at Reardan, and they told me how much help they got here to get back on track.”
Miller said he wasn’t far behind in credits, but what he appreciates most about Medical Lake Alternative is the environment, which he said fits his learning style better than traditional programs. He attends the auto body program at Newtech Skill Center in Spokane in the morning, then takes the bus back to Medical Lake for the afternoon.
“Most of my work here is in packets, but I also do some online projects. I’m able to get most of my stuff done at school, which is different from before for me. It was really stressful for me at Reardan. I’m not the best student and have had lots of problems academically, so it feels good that everybody here is helpful.
“I would never have dropped out, but I feel better about myself this year. I’m all caught up, and I don’t have any worries about graduation. Last year at this time, I was already thinking about how hard senior year was going to be.”
After Miller’s difficult junior year, his parents were on board with the transfer, and he said that seeing how much he’d accomplished in his new setting, they were very happy with the move.
His counselor at Medical Lake Alternative, Tricia Smith, has witnessed firsthand the change in Miller’s attitude about himself and about school.
“I know that Noah hadn’t enjoyed school, and had not always felt welcome because he struggled so much,” he said. “But he fit in really well here, and we’ve seen him blossom. I have no doubts that he’s going to be successful. He’s a bright, hard-working kid.”
His plans for the summer include the possibility of working at a local grain grower, shoveling and driving truck, or working at Lakeland Village, where both his parents and his older brother are employed. Miller has previously done volunteer work there, assisting residents with severe physical disabilities. He’s been around Lakeland his whole life, he said, so work that may be difficult for others is nothing new for him.
Miller’s career goal is to eventually own his own auto body and motorcycle repair shop, and he appreciates Medical Lake Alternative for opening his eyes to opportunities beyond high school, including college possibilities.
“I used to wonder why people who had gone through 12 years of school would ever want to do more, but now I’m thinking about my future in a more positive way. I feel more successful here. I feel that I can do more things now and in my future than I ever thought I could.”
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