It was always going to be difficult for Chandler Roberts.
Raised in what he describes as a dysfunctional home with alcoholic parents, Roberts said he just wasn’t going to give up on himself.
Dawn Mackesy, principal at New Vision Alternative High School in Post Falls, said, “I remember the first time I met Chandler. It was at his eighth-grade graduation. He walked right up to me, shook my hand and told me he wanted to come to my school. That fall we made it happen.”
“I was partying and was never home, and I was getting into fights,” said Roberts. “But I feel I’m a strong person and knew something had to change. I had some friends who went there (to New Vision) and figured it would be a good place for me. There’s more one-on-one time, help in class, smaller classes and help connecting with colleges.”
He said he bonded with his teachers, who spent time talking with him and listening about his home situation, and when he told them of the police involvement that occurred and how intolerable and toxic it was at home and how badly he wanted to be out of there, they – with his permission – wrote letters to the courts. His older sister Chealsie agreed to be his guardian and took him in.
“None of them had to do that,” he said, “but my teachers and my sister … well, it all means a lot to me.”
Roberts has earned money for himself since he was 13, when he wore a taco costume and waved to passersby in front of a Mexican restaurant. He still works at two jobs, at a fast food restaurant and as a prep cook/dishwasher at another restaurant.
“You just fight through it, whatever comes up,” he said. “Life is what it is, and if you want to make something out of it, you just don’t give up.”
And so Chandler Roberts not only studied well, he accelerated those studies so he could graduate a year early.
“I wanted to get it done,” he said. “I want to look to the future. Maybe it’s a little too early, but I didn’t enjoy my childhood very much, so I was motivated to move through.”
He has been accepted at North Idaho College and hopes to do landscape work, perhaps have a landscape business. Having graduated early (at the end of January), he still comes by the school to visit with the teachers who gave him the emotional support he needed.
While he was at the school for the interview for this story about him, Mackesy came in to the room and gave him a big hug. When it was observed that she clearly loves him, a small smile came across his face, and with lowered head, he said: “I know.”