I think that in my time of attending a charter school, I've learned more about the world, my fellow students and myself than any school I've attended.
Although we were the newest and first charter school in Peoria, we quickly became the envy of the town with our emphasis on student exploration in the STEM subjects, hands-on learning, and focusing on higher education and self-improvement—while still maintaining the extracurricular experiences expected of most high schools, with varsity sports, weekly clubs for interests of all kinds, choral and band opportunities, field trips aplenty, intramural competitions and talent shows.
Coming from a middle-class, African-American family, I've always been told to get my education and follow a path to success that satisfies my needs as an individual, to go on with a presence of living that brings me joy, wisdom and growth, a sentiment that I've inherited from my grandparents and my own parents. I found that Quest was the inviting setting that let an introverted person like myself open up and explore my talents with teachers who enjoyed the company of their students enough to invite them after school so they can continue to strive independently and away from any distractions at home.
My school has truly felt like my home away from home—one in which I can grow and learn as a person and experience things I never could have found on my own. I'd have to send my sincere thanks to all my teachers for that, as well as the excellent staff that kept the building in such beautiful shape, and the countless opportunities that allowed me and my friends to continue to grow closer as friends, as classmates, as a school and as a community. The gratitude I have for these men and women in my life is beyond words.
In my time as a part of Quest, I've been in three spelling bees, two mathletic competitions, a science fair, art fairs and even spoken word competitions—never taking the top prize, but always taking home an invaluable experience. Lasting impressions have been made simply by allowing me to attend and bear witness to the excellence that can be achieved in a positive learning environment that wants you there and strives to include you in learning, no matter the experience you possess—where there's always more to learn and room to grow, no matter where you are, in or outside of the classroom. I honestly feel that if I hadn't been in a charter school, I wouldn't have been so blessed to receive this.
Now I look forward to going to college at Elmhurst College near Chicago, and I'm extremely excited to see where that'll lead me. But, no matter where I'm taken, I know that I'll have the knowledge to continue to go forward in life and succeed. iBi
Andrew Greenway is a member of the Quest Charter Academy High School Class of 2017.