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Two graduates flourish at CHOICE High School

Shelton-Mason County Journal of Shelton, Washington

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Seniors Henry, York now have big plans

Since the fall of 1983, CHOICE High School has been offering second chances to students in Shelton. The school embraces that mantra, especially for students who are facing a variety of obstacles in life in school and in their personal lives.

Two students in the graduating class of 2016 took advantage of that second chance within the brick walls of CHOICE.

For junior Tiana Henry, CHOICE embraced her differences when others bullied her for them. Henry, 18, is an enrolled member of the Squaxin Island Tribe. She's proud of her heritage, but said she faced a lot of bullying and racial slurs for being Native American.

"It hurt," said Henry, who is graduating a year early. "I didn't want to be where it was happening."

Henry's brothers and sisters attended CHOICE, so she thought she would give school one more try. At the school, Henry nourished under the guidance and leadership from staff.

"It's like a family; they're there for you," she said. "You don't feel like you'll get judged. They push you to where you want to be."

Henry said she's proud to be Squaxin and she's passionate about her culture. She said she loves participating in powwows and canoe journeys.

A canoe journey is a month-long trip open for anyone where they canoe to different tribes around the area. Henry said she's gone to the Nisqually, Muckleshoot and Tulalip tribes. She said at the tribes, everyone dances and sings.

After graduation, Henry plans to attend South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia or the Northwest Indian College in Bellingham. She would like to become a nuclear med technician or an ultrasound technician.

Another student who grew as a leader at CHOICE is senior Esteban York. Last year, York transferred in the middle of the year from Shelton High School. He didn't get involved in any activities and coasted through the second half of the school year.

At the start of this year, his teachers challenged him to step into a leadership role. In the Leadership Class, York blossomed.

"That was the beginning of the change," York said. "... Overall, this last year has been the best of my four years of high school. Especially with the staff members and how much they are willing to care."

He helped plan events and helped spearhead the Halloween celebration. York said he remembered coming to CHOICE as a student for the Halloween celebration, but it had been on a hiatus until last October.

York found another leadership role with the Teen Council through Planned Parenthood in Shelton. With Teen Council, York travels to schools in Mason County and gives presentations to students on sex education.

"I'm really passionate about people be ng able to learn sex ed and get the information better than just staff teaching it," York said. "It's better if you have peers teaching it because they actually listen. With Teen Council, I'm very passionate about that and trying to get the right information out."

After graduation, York will attend Olympic College in Shelton and earn his bachelor's degree in nursing.

Copyright 2016 Shelton-Mason County Journal, Shelton, Washington. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: June 23, 2016

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