During my Junior year in High School, I had already made a plan to somehow become a renowned comic book artist. The idea came to me after years and years of reading American and Japanese comic books as well as playing video games. These I considered to be my favorite pass-times. At the time I didn’t have to worry about bills, or work because my dad was already working two jobs. Passing my Art or English class wasn’t much of problem at all. The only problem were the other classes which I did my best in but, the subject was just not something I ever took interest in. The classes were Physiology and Economy. As you can probably surmise, my background hobby of reading comic books and playing games just was not on the same educational level as learning government earnings or science of body part-which, in some nine years later, would become an interest because I studied Medical Assisting and received a diploma for it, though it was through different circumstances that I happen to be interested in that field at that particular time.
In my Economy class, I had a teacher who was male, who happened to favor his male students more than his female students. Everyday I went to class, listened to his lectures, took clear notes and did everything I could to cram what I just learned into my head but, it just was not happening. Not only that, I found that I was always extremely sleepy every time I was in that particular class, so whenever he started talking and talking, I start nodding more and more. The only thing I wanted to study at that time was the back of my eye-lids.
My Physiology class wasn’t as boring however, but I still could not retain much of anything that was being taught. It wasn’t that the teacher was bad at teaching, in fact she did her best to make it interesting. The problem was on my part. My brain was just unable to register the things I was being taught. Scientific names of plants, or human human body was too hard for me to remember. And every time we were tested, my grade is either a B- or a C-. The latter grade was the most frequent that I received in that class. English is not my first language, that is fact. I grew up taking ESL in elementary and Middle School. I made it a point, to study the English language as much as possible and assimilate that into the vocabulary of my birth language. Khmer. The study of Economics had no place in my mind at the time and neither did Physiology.
When my senior project came around, I was deciding what I should do. I was in a Visual Arts Academy at the time and needed to pass my Art and English class with a major work that required a higher level of concentration and work put into it. It had to be big and I would need to put in the effort. I had two choices at the time. One, draw a mural depicting something artsy and educational, or Two, write a novel. Sort of. I had initially opted to do the mural. Since I was having the most difficult time in my Economy class, I figured I’d ask my teacher if I could draw a mural on the back wall. His response to this was, of course ‘NO’. His reason was that, not only would he need to get permission to have this done on school property, but that he was afraid my art style, may depict something distasteful or violent. Using his knowledge of my artistic works he has seen, he was more afraid that my artwork would depict comic book like characters which he felt would be inappropriate or too childish for his classroom, which he felt should embody maturity. At the time, I hadn’t even pitched to him what I would have painted, but I felt like my argument would be a lost cause. You can imagine it took me by surprise when, some two weeks later, I come in on a Monday morning to find that another student, who happens to be male, was on a ladder painting what looked to be an over-the-weekend job, of a depiction of soldiers holding and shooting guns, some bleeding and some running; fire and explosion everywhere. I was shocked because not only was it insulting to me to be told I couldn’t work on the mural I had asked, but that it depicted the exact thing that I was told would be inappropriate. So One, I figured that since this was obviously depicting the Vietnam War, he must have thought it was honorable and commemorative and VERY mature to have in his classroom-which the war itself was something I also honored and respected. Two, he was a plain, out-in-the-open Sexist. I confronted him about it as my fellow class-mates were coming into class one my one. He started saying anything to make himself seem less guilty of being a sexist of course but, some of my fellow female classmates backed me up as well as a few male students too because, they were there when I asked him about painting his wall when he stated his concerns of it being inappropriate. I walked out of class that day, and already thinking in my mind, I wasn’t going to graduate High School because this teacher was going to fail me.
For the next month or so, whenever I came to his class, I put aside what happened and still did my best to take notes and participate in class. I went ahead and took my second choice for my Senior Project. I was going to write a book. Well, it wasn’t going to be published though because it was more of showing my diligence on pursuing my career as a lover of the arts. Late into the night, I would be in front of my computer, typing my heart out and cracking my knuckles every time they became stiff. I also spent hours upon hours working on drawing characters and chapter cover-arts. I was putting in the works. In the meantime, while my brain was focused on my project, it also was exhausted and burned-out. My lessons in Economics was going no where. Every test I took, I received a C or C- as a grade. I was officially about to fail that class.
The day came when I was to stand in front of the Teachers who represented the Art Academy VAAMP: My Art Teacher, English Teacher and…I can’t seem to remember who else. In any case, I displayed my work of art as well as presented the book in two 1inch folders. Within each folder there were ten chapters. Within each chapter is ten pages. And an illustration as the cover-art for every chapter. In the end, my teachers were impressed and I passed with an A 🙂 Now, the only thing we needed to deal with, was my grade is Economy and Physiology. My teachers helped to negotiate and did their best to help provide me with the chance; an open window to aide in my graduation of the twelfth grade. If I remember correctly, I had to retake the final exams for both classes all by myself at an appointed date and time after school. It was nerve wrecking. The days before I retook the exams, I did my best to study the test reviews and previous exam reviews. In my Physiology class, my teacher sort of hinted at certain answers for me, though soft hints, but enough for me to manage an answer. She gave me a passing grade afterwards. Finally, the very last exam I was to ever take in High School would be the deciding factor in whether or not I would graduate High School. Somehow I passed. The details have eluded my mind on how exactly-which, it’s been over sixteen years now,so I can’t be held responsible for remembering ALL the details. In the end, I graduated High School at seventeen years old and was going to college within three months, toward a new type of challenge. I was stoked 🙂
And there you have it. A history on why I ALMOST didn’t graduate High School.