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News >  K-12 education

Innovation High School: Destenee Ervin

Destenee Ervin, of Innovation High School, has faced significant challenges in her high school career but she has maintained a positive attitude through it all.  (Courtesy)
Destenee Ervin, of Innovation High School, has faced significant challenges in her high school career but she has maintained a positive attitude through it all. (Courtesy)
By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

As Innovation High School senior Destenee Ervin prepared to graduate this month, she was sent reeling with a series of family emergencies and her college of choice abruptly rescinding her acceptance. But Ervin has rallied and is exploring other colleges to get her career dreams back on track.

Her challenges began in 2019. Both of her parents were previously methamphetamine addicts and her mother had been drug free for two years. A relapse in 2019 with methamphetamine laced with heroin sent her mother to the hospital in critical condition and it took her months to recover.

During that time, Ervin lived with her biological father, with whom she previously had little contact. Ervin said her father sexually molested her and attempted to sexually assault her during the six months she lived with him. She reported his actions and he served nine months in jail, but some family members did not support her during that time. “I lost all of my family on his side,” she said.

Her mother has recovered from her relapse and is drug free again, but Evrin received news that her father died in April. More recently, her stepfather had a heart attack and had open heart surgery last week. Through it all Ervin has attempted to remain positive and focused.

“She has endured significant challenges in the time that we have known her, and has maintained high academic standards throughout,” said school counselor Aimee Cocco. “Her positive attitude and commitment to improving herself despite numerous setbacks is unique for a person of her age. We are in awe of her resilience.”

Cocco said Ervin is friendly and welcoming to other students. “She is a talented student, a strong self-advocate and survivor,” she said. “She has demonstrated that she has the skills and fortitude to push through her circumstances and succeed. She is a valued community member and we will miss seeing her when she graduates.”

Ervin said that she’s excited to graduate, but she’ll miss the school. “I love the school so much,” she said. “It’s helped me grow so much. The teachers there are awesome.”

When Ervin was younger her best friend enrolled in the PRIDE Prep Middle School, a charter school. She heard nothing but good about it from her friend. “I found out it was project based,” she said. “I learn more with hands on.”

Ervin said she wasn’t necessarily struggling in a traditional middle school, but she wasn’t engaged. “I was just bored,” she said. “I didn’t want to be there.”

She began attending PRIDE in the eighth grade and started at Innovation High School, a charter school affiliated with PRIDE Prep, her freshman year. She became excited about going to school every day and enjoyed the projects she worked on and creating close relationships with her teachers.

Like other graduates, she researched colleges, applied and picked her top choice. Ervin said she doesn’t know why the college she selected at first accepted her and then rescinded her acceptance. Now she’s figuring out a Plan B and said she’s reconsidering the other schools she researched, including Eastern Washington University. “Eastern was definitely my second choice,” she said.

She hasn’t settled on her major yet, but she’s considering studying psychology and pathology. “I like the study of diseases,” she said.

Another option she’s considering is becoming a lawyer, with the goal of becoming a judge.

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