When senior Lilly Compton showed up at Spokane Valley High School in the fall of 2021, she had only credits from her freshman year of high school. After years of hard work, she’ll graduate on time this month.
Compton grew up in Vancouver, Washington, but had regularly spent time in the Spokane area. “We were back and forth for a while because my grandparents had a house here,” she said.
Her family moved here in 2021 after Compton had been struggling in school. “I’ve always struggled in large-scale school environments,” she said. “I was failing most of my classes.”
By the time the COVID-19 pandemic hit, she had already disengaged from school. Online school was no better. But by October 2021 she had signed up for classes at Spokane Valley High School, an alternative school with a focus on credit retrieval so students can make up the classes they’ve failed.
“It’s flexible and it’s a real community,” Compton said. “My teachers worked with me. We were able to finesse my credits. I’m graduating on time. That wasn’t supposed to happen. I was supposed to graduate next year.”
Though requirements can vary by district, Washington State requires that students complete 24 high school credits before they can graduate. This year, Compton is taking 14 of those. “It’s a lot and it’s kind of stressful,” she said.
Graduating from high school means a lot to Compton because she will be the first in her immediate family to accomplish it. Neither of her parents finished high school nor did her older sister. Compton currently lives with her father and younger brother and is focused on being a good role model for him.
“At home, I’m kind of head of the household,” she said. “I cook, I clean, I do everything.”
Her mother, who previously had a substance misuse problem, has now been drug-free for several years and lives with Compton’s younger sister. Compton said she has missed her mom, but her childhood has given her the grit and determination she needs. “I do think it’s made me who I am,” she said.
Despite her course load, Compton is also involved in other school activities. She joined the health and science club because she likes science and is the ASB representative for the graphics program at New Tech Skills Center, where she takes graphic design and digital media classes.
Counselor Elise Barlow said Compton embodies commitment, adaptability, integrity and empathy. “From the moment Lilly stepped on the SVH campus, she has shown commitment through her schoolwork and relationships with the community,” Barlow said. “While her life both in and outside of school can be chaotic at times, Lilly has a smile on her face and genuine positivity. We are so proud of all she has overcome and accomplished and cannot wait to see what the next chapter of her life will bring.”
Not only is Compton graduating from high school, she’s also making plans to attend college. She wants to get an associate degree at a community college before transferring to a traditional college. She’d like to study marketing, which includes the mix of writing and graphic design that she enjoys.