Blue jean solitary

Junior faces scholastic punishment in DAEP and grows from isolation


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If ISS (In School Suspension) had a mean, vaguely misunderstood, older sibling this would be it.

The worst part of it might be the lunches. The depressing, identical sacks of disappointment served daily makes one actually crave cafeteria food. Although what more could you expect from a DAEP, or Disciplinary Alternative Education Placement lunch.

To many the portable building across the street is a totally foreign world. I had plenty preconceived notions about what happens inside those buildings. I had heard stories about DAEP, none of which were positive. But as I spent more days in the small classroom, I realized that it was all bad.

When I heard that I would be assigned there, I was swallowed by a wave of disbelief. I immediately started crying, not because I was in trouble, but because I knew I would lose practically everything. For four weeks my life would be drastically changed, no longer was I considered a “good student.”

I would change in the eyes of my teachers and peers. I was so afraid that I would lose all the credit and the reputation I had built. I’ve seen the side eyes people give returning DAEP students. Girls like me didn’t go there. In my mind, DAEP was the place for the students who were the worst of the worst. I braced myself for the worst days of my life.

Things that typical students take for granted are stripped away. Things like individuality and picking your own clothes are the obvious ones you would miss, unless you’re really into tucked-in white T-shirts and plain jeans. Also the agony of sitting in the same spot the entire day.

There are intangible things as well. It really bothered me that teachers didn’t trust me. I was conditioned to teachers treating me like I was a responsible human being who could handle herself. In DAEP, there is no trust; it is safer that way. Each student is checked with a metal detector every morning before entering the classroom.

The transition from the high school to DAEP wasn’t an easy one. I wasn’t used to so many No’s. No talking. No turning around. No this. No that. The biggest no that hurt me the most was, no learning. I was used to listening to lectures and having intelligent discussions with my teachers and classmates. But this is not at the desire of the faculty here; it is the students who are at fault. But it is to be expected because these are the class disruptors.

My teacher, Ryan Forest, was one of the positives. I was told the day I arrived that he was one of the stricter teachers and he took no nonsense. I was not too worried because I give no nonsense. He is the keeper of chaos. People call him strict, but I think he’s fair, his proclaimed strictness has made my sentence in DAEP tolerable. In charge of giving me all my numerous assignments, he ensures that all of my work gets done and that I don’t fall behind.

Despite the limitation you get with being assigned there, there is also a chance to grow. I learned how to pace myself and study effectively. It is an opportunity to flush out your grades because there is literally nothing else to do. From 8 a.m. until 3 p.m., there is almost nothing but you and your work.

I chose to be better when I left there, instead of letting that unfortunate circumstance define who I am. DAEP has been a lesson, that at first I was scared to learn, but now I face my consequences without fear or hesitations. And however my teachers and classmates see me is irrelevant because I see myself In an entirely new light.