The Hale house was a stew of emotions over the last few months. Hope, fear, anticipation, worry, excitement...typical for a soon-to-be-high-schooler. But the roller coaster for Bella was even more bumpy. We're calling it her "Summer of Limbo."
Bella was one of the many students denied admittance to San Juan Hills High School due to the newly enforced neighborhood boundaries. The School of Choice process with CUSD had never denied a student admittance to SJHHS before, but due to its rising enrollment and the deferral of many San Clemente High (an impacted school) students to SJHHS, this was the year that much of Ladera was denied. And like many, she was devastated.
It's not that we had anything against Tesoro, it's just that SJHHS was what we knew. Almost all of our neighbors are/were students at SJHHS, her BFFs were soon-to-be-Stallions, her dad had even taught summer school there and she had performed there with her choir. We just thought it was a given. That was our mistake.
Needless to say, we did everything in our power to appeal the decision. We joined a group of other parent advocates, collected data, attended board meetings, wrote letters, etc. In July, the Assistant Superintendent met with us and explained that the numbers needed to drop by approximately 50 students for them to let anyone on the wait list in. At that time, they were down 16, and since Bella was number nine on the list, it seemed she had a good chance of getting in. We would just have to wait. So we did. And we were hopeful.
In the meantime, and because we were officially Titans, Bella went to three weeks of Tesoro volleyball camp and came to really like the school and the students. But since there was also a chance she'd get in to SJHHS, she spent two weeks with her BFFs at volleyball camp there too. We were covering our bases, trying not to get our hopes too high and trusting that what was meant to be, would be.
I must admit that at times, this seemed easier for her to do than for me. Each time she asked if we knew anything yet, it made me mad that she couldn't just have a summer of excitedly planning for the fun of high school with her besties. But that period in limbo really did turn out to be the best thing about this (originally) crappy situation. Bella was able to spend time at both schools. She met really nice girls from neighborhoods outside the Ladera bubble. She worked with coaches and upperclassmen who took the time to invest in her and make her feel welcome. And when the final decision came, she was able to just as easily, and comfortably, see herself as a Titan as she could a Stallion. And so could I.
A few weeks ago, Bella tried out for the Tesoro volleyball team and made it!! (Which is a HUGE accomplishment considering she's never played volleyball and couldn't even serve the first whole week of camp. It goes to show that you don't have to play a sport all your life to make a high school team, but that's a post for another day.) Two days later, she found out there'd be no room for her at San Juan Hills. She cried and said "high school is going to be horrible" but those feelings didn't linger. After listing the pros, one of which was (her words) the cute surfers on the surf team, she embraced her new identity as a Tesoro Titan. (Did I already mention the roller coaster?)
The benefit of being "on hold" for three months was that the final decision, any decision, was better than limbo. And as my brave girl embraced the direction that her new adventure was taking, in rushed the excitement and joy that we'd been waiting for. I'm happy to report that her first week of high school was better than she expected. Her summer of limbo proved that when things don't go your way, they can still turn out great. It's all about ATTITUDE and PERSPECTIVE. And I know with every ounce of my soul that that was all part of the plan.