There was a time, not so long ago, when Mariah Miller couldn’t picture herself graduating from high school.
Or at least, not from the high school she was attending at the time.
When she accepts her diploma June 9 from Venture High School – the Coeur d’Alene School District’s alternative program – she will do so as the school’s Student of the Year, as well as one of the first in her family to graduate.
“I started off at Lake City High School when I was a freshman, and it didn’t really work out for me,” Miller said. “I was, like, the shy type, and the classes there were huge; I couldn’t really talk in class. And I didn’t want to go to school. I actually missed so many days that I got a truancy letter.
“When I was there, I just couldn’t see myself graduating. Not from Lake City.”
Early in her freshman year, Miller transferred.
“I’m a student who just needed a little more help,” she said. “I transferred to Venture after a semester at Lake City, and I’ve been here ever since. It’s been good here. I get more help, and I feel like the staff here cares a little bit more about their students individually.
“I think the fact that this is a much smaller school has given me more focus.”
That bit of extra help, and the comfortable surroundings, have made all the difference, Miller said. It’s been her springboard to scholarship.
“I know a lot of people who think that freshman year, sophomore year, junior year – they don’t really matter,” Miller said. “Now that I’m a senior, I know better. But I got to the last point here.”
The student who didn’t want to go to school, who was tagged for truancy at the start of her high school career, changed dramatically.
In November, Miller was chosen as the school’s student of the month.
“That was pretty much for always being there,” she said. “And for having high grades – a 4.0.”
Her Student of the Year honor came in recognition of those same qualities, and in recognition of a student who has found her own way and her own path.
Miller is happily working on the one final credit she needs to graduate. After that?
“I’m looking into going to a school like Carrington to be a dental assistant,” she said. “I’m not sure how much it’s going to cost to go there or how I’m going to pay for it. But I’m working on figuring all that out.
“It’s exciting knowing what I want to do.”
Miller admits to having a few nerves about graduation. Because, well, even with all the success she’s found at Venture, there’s still that shy thing to deal with.
“I’m going to have a lot of my family there, and they’re very excited for me,” she said. “That makes me nervous. I’m not comfortable with people watching me.”
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