Student Voices

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Lessons I Learned During My First Semester of College

A little less than a week ago, I finished my first semester of college! These past three and a half months have been incredibly transformative for me. I’ve learned so much about myself and the world around me, and I want to share this with all of you.


Basic manners can make all the difference in someone’s day.

There is a server in the dining hall that has a reputation among the students for being grumpy. There were many days that I would go straight to the salad bar or deli bar and not eat the hot food (also to avoid the long lines). My mom suggested that I “make nice” by using simple pleasantries. Short exchanges like “hi”, “how are you”, “how’s your day”, “please”, and “thank you” can make a big difference. You never know what somebody is going through, so treating them with the respect that they are often denied can brighten their day more than you can imagine.

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Special Education at GHCHS

By Sydney Thiroux, Whittier College

Letter to the LAUSD Board of Education:

Hello, my name is Sydney Thiroux. I recently graduated from Granada Hills Charter High School, and during my four years there I noticed that the students in the special education program were never properly integrated into the school community. Special education is an issue that is very important to me because my two sisters are on the autism spectrum, and it breaks my heart when people on the autism spectrum do not receive the respect and services they deserve. From my understanding, Granada's special day class was in a small classroom secluded from the rest of the school. They have their own set of lunch tables that are gated off. Many of my peers hardly knew that our school had a special education class! Because of their status as a charter school, Granada glorifies academic prestige to the point of neglecting the needs of special education students. I feel that there is more that needs to be done so that students on the autism spectrum (and students with other disabilities) are accepted for their differences and are well-prepared for life after high school.


What I Learned From Mandarin Class (Besides Mandarin)

By Sydney Thiroux/Granada Hills Charter High School

Syd.jpgI have been studying Mandarin since my freshman year at Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS). I am blessed to have had the most amazing Mandarin teacher throughout my high school career. Recently, my teacher, Ms. Chen, informed her four Mandarin classes that she would be leaving our school after the school year was over. She will be working at Geffen Academy, a grades 6-12 academy affiliated with UCLA, to build their Mandarin program.

Naturally, all of her students, including myself, were heartbroken. She was our favorite teacher. How could she just leave us? Learning Mandarin wouldn’t be the same without her.

Many high school students take a foreign language class just to fulfill a graduation requirement. Mandarin class became so much more than that to me. Here are a few of the things that I learned from that class, besides Mandarin:

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A Day Without Janitors

By Sydney Thiroux/Granada Hills Charter High School

Picture a campus of over 4,000 students at lunchtime. A line that seems to be about a mile long forms on the way to the cafeteria. Some students are buying snacks from the vending machines. Other students, like myself, bring their own lunch and snacks. Now picture what that campus looks like after lunchtime. All kinds of wrappers and half-eaten meals are strewn everywhere. I have even seen my peers throw away perfectly good salads without even opening them. Janitors definitely have their work cut out for them.

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