For Gracie Morton, the most important lesson she learned at PSCS had nothing to do with an academic subject. It was about self-discipline.
She had been enrolled in a public high school, and admits that she had given up on her education.
“Growing up, I struggled with a learning disability,” she says. “It took me twice as long as everyone in my class just to finish a test. I was constantly nervous and uncomfortable. My doctor prescribed me ADD and anxiety meds to ‘solve’ the problems I was facing in school. I worked so hard in elementary and middle school and I still ended up with average grades, and sometimes barely passing.”
In addition, Grace was always passionate about dance. So after school, she would spend 2-3 hours a day at ballet practice. “Homework became a problem and many hours of sleep were lost,” she says. “It was emotionally taxing.”
Her parents did some research and found PSCS. “We visited PSCS and I remember immediately feeling welcome,” she says. “I had never felt this way walking into a school. Everyone seemed so happy.”
But the transition to PSCS was not easy.
“It took me another year to recover from my public school trauma,” she says. “I would sign up for a class and drop out once I understood the amount of work it would take. I missed out on some great PSCS opportunities, because it was ingrained in my head that schoolwork was damaging to my self-esteem. Once I became a junior, [a staff member] showed me how behind I was. If I wanted a diploma, I had to get my act together and accomplish my goals. A switch was flipped, and I started the year with an academic class in every period. My workload increased dramatically. Looking at my schedule was daunting. As the year went on, I realized that I was actually enjoying myself and making a lot of progress. I learned that being committed really pays off, and I experienced joy from the process.
“I was so proud of myself when Andy handed me my high school diploma. I still work hard in my day-to-day life, and stay committed to my priorities. At PSCS I learned that commitment results in self-respect and pride.”
After graduating, Gracie moved to Portland and began dancing full time with a professional ballet company and the school of the Oregon Ballet Theater. She recently earned a merit scholarship to attend a summer ballet intensive in Austin.