The First Year at North Chicago: Anthony's Experience

by Anthony Rodriguez, North Chicago Community High School, Class of 2016

Anthony (right) with NCCHS Scholars at a production of Les Misérables.
I can remember the day I was chosen for the first class of North Chicago Community High School Schuler Scholars. I did not know how this program would play out, considering I was a part of the first and only class North Chicago ever received. It was especially important to me because of North Chicago’s reputation for kids going nowhere. It was a big deal to set the proper examples for those who would follow. I wanted to be the best possible and to show that great things could come from North Chicago.

When I was first inducted into the Schuler Scholar Program, I was sent off to camp. The absence of technology and being in nature were a completely different flow than what I was used to. I had never been away from my home for so long and I began feeling homesick. Although I was scared, the camp activities and trail helped me take my mind off of things. During trail we canoed while exploring the wilderness. My stay at Camp Manito-Wish YMCA taught me a lot about leading, and most importantly how to cooperate with others. Trail made us all work together in order to get things done. By the last day everyone was in sync with one another; we were working well together in a way I had never seen before.

After that first summer came more challenges. The Geometry class pushed me to my breaking point. It was a series of formulas, numbers, and graphs to the extreme. At first it was absurdly hard, but I began adjusting to the pace just like I did in camp. All I needed was more explanation and effort, then I was home free (literally).

In addition to those two summers, there were plenty of work and activities to do. Between Schuler and the advanced classes, there was a mountain of work to be done. At one time, I had two essays to write and three separate homework assignments to complete. Everything became overwhelming; it was a monstrous amount of work along with everything I had to do with Schuler. Although I struggled a lot, I received much needed support from my Scholar Coaches. We worked one by one on my assignments and how to balance work on my own as well. I felt like I had been thrust from middle school to college, but I overcame it like any other challenge I encountered.

My year was not all work, not at all. Schuler took me on many great exposures. From a poetry slam to the science museum of Chicago, they were all very enjoyable. At one point, we even had a person come in and teach us art. I am glad the exposures were there. The trips and experiences provided me with a sense of getting away from all the work.

With my experiences as an individual and with Schuler, I’ve grown to appreciate knowledge in general. I am always learning, whether I learn something about teamwork or about a time period. I am thankful for this opportunity because it is helping me achieve my goals. I hope to be a biomedical engineer to help people. I want to go to the best possible school and to live my life happily with family. I began my journey in North Chicago with the Schuler program, and I am headed in the direction of my dream.


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