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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Mountain View Alternative High School: Jimmy Gardiner found his place and his future

Jimmy Gardiner will be the first of his five siblings to attend college.  (Courtesy)
By Joe Everson For The Spokesman-Review

Mountain View Alternative High School Principal Assistant and teacher Mark Gorton has plenty to say about senior Jimmy Gardiner, but his most interesting observation may be when he compares Jimmy to iconic movie character Ferris Bueller.

Bueller, you may recall, was a larger-than-life high school senior who lives in the moment and comes to care as much about his friends as much as he cares about himself. Of course it all occurred on a day when he was skipping school, but that’s not Gorton’s point.

“Jimmy’s personality makes him Ferris-like in his ability to be liked across all subcultures of high school,” Gorton said. “He is one-of-a-kind. I have been continually impressed by his positive attitude and unwavering perseverance, and his genuine love for learning. And he is not afraid to stand up to those who would make another person’s day hard.”

Gardiner has been a student at Mountain View for all four years of high school, enrolling there after two older brothers had positive experiences at the school. As he noted, there are often misconceptions about alternative schools, typically that they exist only for troubled students or those with bad grades.

“I knew in middle school that I wouldn’t fit into a ‘normal’ high school,” he said. “Kids are at Mountain View for different reasons, and I’ve met people of all socio-economic and family backgrounds. There are students there who dropped out of other schools, but others who just needed something different.

“I didn’t accept the acceptance that I received when I started there,” he continued. “It has prepared me for a life.

He spoke most highly of Gorton, whom he described as a “great, great guy.”

“Before I came here, I figured that I would just go to high school, get a diploma, and get a job. But Mr. Gorton pushed me gently in another direction, asking me what I wanted to do with my future and talking with me about college. I didn’t know anything about colleges, but Mr. Gorton was always wearing his Lewis-Clark State merch, and he got me thinking.

“I have five siblings, and I will be the first to go to college. My father was a computer geek, and I loved watching him repair them. I have been interested in that as long as I can remember. I never asked for regular toys, but instead for ones with remotes, like a mechanical garbage truck, and I loved Transformers.”

Gardiner was enrolled half-days for his junior and senior years at the Kootenai Technical Education Campus in computer repair and networking, and plans to attend LC State majoring in cybersecurity management.

At KTEC, he was chosen to serve as a student ambassador, and was also selected by the Post Falls School District as a member of the district student council.

Gardiner came into Mountain View with social anxiety, he said, but is leaving with high hopes for his future and a sense of optimism about his possibilities, and with leadership skills he didn’t know that he possessed. And in Mark Gorton, a role model he’ll remember long past high school.