Community Day School
Community Day is not a school that Valentin Carmona thought he would be attending. After having issues at another school last year, the 12th grader has found a fresh start within the uniquely supportive environment at Community Day - where he is one of only 27 students.
Valentin's perspective on the value of the high school is clear, as the experience has given him a chance to reflect.
“It’s like a pause and reset,” he said, describing his time at Community Day. “High school is only four years and those four years will determine where you go for the rest of your life. So my advice for kids having a hard time is to do your best to ignore whatever is causing you to get in trouble. Be resilient and boost through the problems. It’s just so important that you work really hard for a few years and make the most out of them.”
“At first, I was a little confused and didn’t know how things were going to work out. Throughout the year I’ve been able to understand why I was sent here and it made sense. My other school had about 500 students. Here there’s more one on one attention from teacher and faculty and time to do work.”
For Valentin, more time means he has been able to explore creative writing and work on his own.
“In my other school, the curriculum was a little heavier and I didn’t have time for it,” he said. “One of my favorite classes is Creative Writing with Mr. Keeve because he introduces me to new ways of expressing myself which has also helped me to process the reasons I’ve had to come here. In that class we do a lot of different kinds of writing, like fiction and storytelling. We did a whole unit on poetry.”
Valentin shared a few lines from one of his poems, called Oaktown:
OUSD arming our youth with the right knowledge and tools,
Young ladies making it to prestigious schools,
Too smart to get sweet talked by some fools,
Organizations offering the youth sanctuaries,
Where they complete their work with the help of peer tutors and free dictionaries,
The Town, where it's a struggle to survive,
Yet all of it’s citizens are rejoiceful to be alive,
In such a beautiful city,
Where we set an example, with our amazing Oakland community.
His positivity speaks to the transformative experience he’s had at Community Day.
“The people I’ve met are what I’ll take away from here. It’s been really surprising. When I told people I was going to a continuation school, they were a little worried for me. I expected the students to be tough and have problems,” Valentin said. “Once I actually met them and heard their stories of how they ended up here, I realized that some of them are kind of sad that they’re here but mostly they’re all trying to do a good job. The sense of community is really strong and I’ve made some great friends.”
As he looks forward to integrating back into a District school next year and catching up with other Seniors, he has his eye on attending Oakland School for the Arts. “Mr. Keeve told me about the writing program - I want to see if I can get in,” Valentin said. “Then hopefully in the beginning of next year, I’ll be able to apply for college so that I can study architecture. Right now, I’m just looking forward to making up all the credits I missed at the end of last year.”