“Adolescent years are always the most difficult and I was right in the middle of that.” Sarah Gingras was a freshman at Concord High School when she started slipping through the cracks. “I wasn’t doing any homework, started skipping classes a lot and my grades went down significantly.” At the end of freshman year, one of her teachers recommended Second Start to her.
Second Start provides students alternative paths to a high school degree or equivalency and other services aimed at self-sufficiency. And at the beginning of her sophomore year, Gingras took a tour of the facilities and soon thereafter began getting help there. Failing to perform in class was a symptom of a larger problem for her, her inability to handle the stress of the classroom.
Second Start helped her address the root of her problem. “The atmosphere was very homelike. They asked you how your day was, everyone wanted to know you and wanted to know how they could help you; how they could give you the tools to be able to cope.”
At first Gingras was doing all of her classwork at Second Start, but as she passed benchmarks she returned to CHS for partial and eventually full days. “They were there every step of the way. They broke it down for me: this is the first step, this is the second, this is the third. What do we need to do to get to that first step. And I just kept climbing those stairs.”
By her senior year she was ready to graduate, and earned her diploma. But as she says, now that she “had my head on straight, I didn’t want to stop my success, I wanted to keep going. I wanted to be someone. I wanted to make a difference.” She applied to New England College, and last fall finished her bachelor’s degree in psychology and childhood development.
Gingras is now in the process of applying to graduate school programs, for general school counseling. She hopes to become a school guidance counselor, “I want to help kids that had the same problems I do, just needed someone to direct you in the right path and to be there every step of the way to get you there.”