No Longer Overwhelmed
After experiencing tremendous loss, Emilie hoped getting into her dream school would help. When that didn't work out she and her family found Fusion, which helped her chart a new course for her life, one with less overwhelm and unhappiness. Read her story in her own words below.
By Emilie L.
Student Ambassador and Founder/Editor-in-Chief of the student art and literary publication: Serendipity.
After trying a new school, Emilie still wasn't happy or thriving. She wanted to find a place where she could pursue creative endeavors and felt respected by teachers. She found that at Fusion.
Loss and Exhaustion
My story starts in 2014 when my family and I lost our home to a fire. We lost our six pets and besides a few things we were able to salvage, experienced a total loss. I remember for a week everything I owned fit into a drawer. I had been dealing with school-related anxiety and stress, but never in my life had I experienced anything quite as devastating. I felt hopeless and incredibly lost. The fire happened on the night before my first day of eighth grade (a stressful night on its own) and no more than a day after I lost my home I was back at school.
It’s safe to say school was not easy, but if anything the loss I had been dealt was a motive for me to work as hard as I possibly could. It was my eighth-grade year which meant I would be applying to high school and starting my freshmen year the next year. I so desperately wanted to get into the high school I’d wanted to go to since I was a little kid - Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. I thought if I persevered relentlessly then there was no way I couldn't get in, now maybe this would have worked if it wasn't for the fact that I had just been through an extremely traumatizing experience, and dealing with all the emotional grief it resulted in. I worked and worked until I literally couldn't anymore. I was tired all the time, I was frustrated, and I was sad. I had exhausted all my resources and needed help. I decided with the advice of my parents and therapist that it would be best for me to spend some time in an inpatient program to get some help. I spent about a week in the hospital and was able to find some stability.
Hope and Disappointment
I finished up my eight grade year and was accepted to Booker T. I was beyond excited. I thought that this new school would be the answer to all my problems. I would do theatre every day and be able to really pursue what I was passionate about without jeopardizing my academic achievement. It did start like that, but obviously I wouldn't be writing this if it had stayed that way. After about a month at Booker T. I was right back in the same place I was before - tired, frustrated, and sad. What hurt the most, however, was the theatre I had once loved and lived for had gone from a passion to something I never looked forward to doing. The way teachers at the school taught theatre made it no longer feel like art to me. I was so overwhelmed that I was compromising my personal well-being trying to stay afloat.
I let this go on for about four months, hoping that maybe things would just work themselves out, I was so desperate for things to turn out the way I had hoped. They didn’t. It all came crashing down on me and I felt like I was being drowned in stress and sorrow. So again, with the support and encouragement of my parents and therapist, we decided it would be best for me to return to an in-patient program. I spent about a week at the hospital again and when it was right for me to leave we knew that I couldn't return to Booker T., to go back would make the cycle repeat itself, I couldn't do that again.
Finding the Place for Me
So I talked to my therapist; he asked me what I wanted in a school, I said I wanted a school where I could feel at home, a school where I learned about what I was interested in without being overwhelmed with work constantly, as school where I could pursue creative endeavors and a school where I felt I could be respected by teachers and get along with them. I thought what I was asking for was impossible until my therapist suggested Fusion. He explained to me how my classes would be one on one, how I wouldn't take homework home, how they value respect and tolerance, and how overall the environment would be one I could really thrive in. My mom came to take a tour and said she was very impressed so I decided to take a look as well. Immediately, I fell in love. I knew Fusion would be the place for me. I knew the transition would be hard, but I was ready for the challenge because never before had I seen a school where getting out of bed in the morning to go would be something I could look forward to.
I started as soon as I could in the second semester of my freshman year. Today, I am a junior here at Fusion Dallas. I am a Student Ambassador, and the Founder/Editor-in-Chief of our student art and literary publication Serendipity. I ditched theatre and have found a new passion for the visual arts and I volunteer weekly at the SPCA of Texas. I plan to graduate from here next year with my group of best friends and have never been happier and more confident in myself and the things I have accomplished. I’m no longer overwhelmed and unhappy with my life and I recommend this school to anyone that feels like they are. Thank you, Fusion.
of Fusion students say they are able to explore creative interests, compared to 39% before Fusion.
of students feel listened to and treated with respect by their teachers, compared to 40% before Fusion.
Confidence, Hope, and Growth
Jessica came to Fusion after feeling hopeless and refusing to go to school. Below you can read her story, which was taken from a speech she gave in front of a large crowd during a campus celebration.
By Jessica K.
Fusion Sugar Land
Started in 10th grade
Jessica wanted to get away from the high-pressure, large school environment she was in, which led her to refuse to go to school at all. She calls Fusion a "little miracle" in her life.
Fusion is the kind of place where hope blooms. It’s the kind of place where growth happens. The kind of place where you feel like your words have meaning to those around you. The kind of place where I have the courage to stand before you and speak these words because I have faith in the kind of person I am.
I haven’t always felt this way. Being in a large, high-pressure school is a dream for some people, the sort of place where they would thrive. But for someone whose response to stress is going into “armadillo mode”, I’ve had enough of an environment where 10 tests and quizzes a week was considered normal.
On top of this, your teenage years, as I am told, are the height of insecurity. How else can you describe a time when thousands of young, naive, hormonal individuals are thrust into a building for seven hours a day? Each and every mistake you make seems astronomical when you have nothing else to compare it to. All of this pressure became increasingly overwhelming, and I could feel myself sinking further and further into hopelessness each and every day.
Eventually one day last fall, I decided I didn’t want to go to school anymore. I like to learn, and I value my education, but I was exhausted. That one day turned into a week, then two, then three.
And let me tell you, sitting in your bed for three weeks is not as fun as it sounds. I was ready to give up and just become a recluse. (Friends are overrated anyway). However, my very concerned parents were at a loss. How do you help a child whose problems cannot be fixed with a band-aid? By chance, (or perhaps a very helpful recommendation from my therapist) we heard of Fusion, a “revolutionary one-to-one private school.” An appointment to visit was made, but I did not have high hopes for this so-called “revolutionary” school. Boy, was I proven wrong.
Finding My Place at Fusion
The moment I stepped on the campus I was in awe. It didn’t look much like a school, or any sort of school I’d ever seen. It seemed more like some new tech company in Silicon Valley run by an ambitious, young entrepreneur. My parents and I toured this dream factory and it was as if a veil had been lifted. There was an impressive music studio, yoga room, art room, and some adorable classrooms. Still, the biggest shock? Everyone was genuinely happy to be here. They were working on projects that interested them, had formed great friendships with both teachers and students, and felt safe and at ease here. Had Fusion gotten rid of every single problem they ever had? No. But was it providing them with the abilities needed to overcome those obstacles? The answer is a resounding yes.
After shadowing Fusion, choosing to attend was an easy decision. I was not expecting instant perfection, yet I was hoping for progress. And slowly but surely, progress came. I no longer obsessed over every little thing, I genuinely looked forward to walking into school each day, and I felt like I finally belonged somewhere. With all this support and love, how can you not start to come out of your shell?
I’ve had a lot of amazing experiences at Fusion. We’ve had Christmas celebrations, gone to an escape room, I’m starting an environmental club, and I’ve even received a typewriter from the Tom Hanks. If you haven’t seen it on the Fusion Facebook yet, we were even featured on the news! I don’t think I would have had the courage or the will to accomplish so much even just a few months ago.
Tom Hanks gave us a typewriter!Posted by Fusion Academy Sugar Land on Tuesday, February 6, 2018
Growth and a Future
All my growth wasn’t strictly external, however. The months since I’ve started have already brought me closer to the person I want to be. There are still good days and bad days, but each and every one is important here because everyone is invested in your success. That encouragement has helped me become more comfortable around others, make new friends, and begin to love myself for who I am. I now look forward to the future, to college and beyond, because I want to find more lovely people like the ones I’ve met here.
I hope to be here until I graduate from Fusion in a couple of years, and in the meantime, I know that I’ll continue to grow, just like all the other Fusionites here who are fighting their own internal battles.
Some kids are here because of difficult schedules, some kids are here because they are struggling with anxiety and depression, and some are here because they have ADHD. However, regardless of the reasons we’re together, we’ve all formed a community, where each one of us has a place. And let me tell you, we’re going to be the next generation of people who change the world.
We all have little miracles in our lives, whether we acknowledge it or not, and I’d like to think that Fusion is one of mine. And if you’re looking for a change, perhaps Fusion can be your miracle too.
of Fusion students felt they were receiving the emotional support they needed after three months at Fusion.
of Fusion students say they can motivate themselves to complete unpleasant tasks that help accomplish their goals.
Gaining Confidence for Smashing Success
Fusion has changed me from an insecure and anxious person with a dark future to someone who is able to stand up for himself. I never used to reach out for help, but now I am able to self-advocate. Read about my journey to Fusion below.
By Travis L.
Fusion Sugar Land
Started in 11th grade, now a graduate
Travis needed a less competitive environment to overcome his test anxiety, which was keeping him from going to school at all. Now, he is more equipped to keep his anxiety and depression under control.
School and Sickness
School was a breeze for me until high school. In junior high, I made straight A’s without trying, with the only time that I worked on homework being on the bus. When I got home, I would get on my computer and start playing video games without a worry in mind. I was looking forward to the freedoms that high school would bring in the next years, and oh my, I had no idea what I was in for.
My freshman year started out all right. I still got almost all A’s, but I did have to put in a lot more work. I would get home around 3 pm, then do homework until around 5 or 6 pm. When semester finals were on the horizon, I got sick. Very sick. I was in the ER three times, and then I was in the hospital for two days. The tests said that I had c-diff. It is a disease where the bad bacteria in your stomach pretty much takes over. It’s weird to get c-diff if you aren’t on antibiotics as that is what wipes out the good bacteria that is supposed to fight off the bad stuff.
Once the doctors said that I should have been better, I didn’t feel better. I was still throwing up multiple times a day. This was actually because of anxiety, and I started to get depressed because I felt like I wasn’t accomplishing anything. After about a month of absences from school, I made it back, and I was greeted by the mountains of work that had accumulated. The thought of all the exams that I had missed dragged me down like an anchor.
Somehow, I was able to pull my way through. I was working every day after school until I was ready to go to bed. And by March, I was all caught up. The rest of my freshman year went fine. I felt very successful for what I had overcome. Little did I know that the anxiety and depression was coming back again, only this time stronger.
Test Anxiety and Spiraling
My sophomore year was not easy for me. Getting back from a nice summer break, I did not want to start doing work again. I started fairly sloppily, with mostly B’s. Then to add to the problems, my best friend that I had made since we had moved here to Houston was sent away by his parents to boarding school. They thought his B’s and C’s weren’t good enough, even though he was trying hard. This frustrated me because I couldn’t understand their thinking.
In my Algebra 2 class, I noticed that after the first few tests, I couldn’t seem to pass anymore. My dad would help me study a week before the test, but I would still do awful. My dad said I knew the material, and he thought it was performance anxiety. I started to think about it, and my school’s environment was quite competitive. They pressured everyone to be in the top 10%, which is statistically impossible. I could see his point, but I had my doubts.
Before my next math test, I went into the counselor’s office to see if I could get ready there. I was thinking about the other tests, how hard I studied, and how poorly I did, and this gave me so much anxiety that I couldn’t make it to class. These thoughts spiraled out of control, so much that my parents could physically not get me to school. I had missed so much school that it was impossible to catch up, and I was so anxious that I could barely make it inside the school building. This is when my parents pulled me out, and my mom (who has a teaching degree) decided to homeschool me for the rest of that year.
My homeschooling experience was OK, but my mom and I decided it was too taxing on our relationship. With this in mind, we found a private school that we hoped would better prepare me for later in life.
At the private school, I managed to barely pass the first semester with countless missing assignments and failing test grades because of my severe anxiety and depression. When the second semester started, I was in such a bad place with my emotions that I basically failed out. This made me feel as though there was no hope for my future, and I questioned whether I would graduate high school or not.
Seeking help, my parents and I reached out to an educational consultant and scheduled a meeting. She thought that the only thing that would work was going away to a boarding school, but she mentioned Fusion Academy as an alternative.
After talking with my parents, we decided that we would take the least disruptive path forward and see how it went. We reached out to Fusion and scheduled a visit. When we came into Fusion and talked to the Head of School, it was easy to see that everyone truly cared about my situation and how I was feeling. I felt comfortable, and like I could be successful.
The more relaxed environment was easy to see, and the fact that Fusion was more about learning than competition sealed the deal. Once I started, the one-on-one classroom gave me a chance to find the gaps in my knowledge that had developed from switching schools, and my teachers filled in the missing pieces. The fact that the curriculum is more adaptable to each student made learning more fun to me. I was able to do more real-life examples, heightening my interest in learning.
I went from not knowing if I would graduate high school to getting accepted to Iowa State’s Engineering program. As I get closer to high school graduation, I get more and more confident in my abilities, and although my anxiety and depression aren’t completely gone, I am able to keep them under control now. I would say my Fusion journey has been a smashing success.
Fusion has changed me from an insecure and anxious person with a dark future to someone who is able to stand up for himself. I never used to reach out for help, but now I am able to self-advocate. Everyone at Fusion is willing to offer a helping hand, and offer up new ideas on how to resolve my issues.
of Fusion students are likely to ask questions or offer thoughts in class.
of Fusion students feel they are getting the academic support they need to be successful.