Perspectives from a graduated student

These are some perspectives of Katina Hago-Saenz, a 5 year student of Pacific Sands Academy. She graduated in June of 2020.

“Pacific Sands gave me the acknowledgement that I could learn doing the things that I am passionate about.”

“I realized during my time there that no matter what I learned it could be valuable. This was especially important at the beginning, when I just had come from school and thought I was ‘bad at learning.’ At that time I thought my difficulties learning reflected that I was ‘not enough,’ and that other kids didn’t struggle as much as I did.”

“It took a long time to change my mind set, but I felt like what helped was that I would do what interested me, and Pacific Sands encouraged that. I started over time to realize how important that time was. I started taking college classes (a dual enrollment option at Pacific Sands or any hiogh school), and would get feedback from college professors that my insight was interesting and unique, and I realized that that insight came from the time I spent pursuing my own interests without the academic pressure that had caused so much stress in my life.”

“When I started out at Pacific Sands, I thought I would only be there a short while, but I ended up staying for 5 years! At first, I did just what I could do- Garden, go to Tae Kwon Do class or do yoga,and I was encouraged to do the little I could at thge time. I was even celebrated for those little things. That empowered me to have the ability to take on larger projects. I started taking college classes, traveling, being part of an Action for Climate change Project (that my parents were involved with), and taking on a leadership role in my Tae Kwon Do studio. . In the end, I got my A.A degree in Anthropology from Ventura Community College at the same time as my high school diploma from Pacific Sands. I feel like I was able to do all these things because of what I learned while I was at Pacific Sands- that what I am interested in is valuable and important and will eventually take me places.”

“Central to the study of anthropology is the idea that all human experiences are valuable. And at Pacific Sands I learned how to see that too, in my own personal life.”

“I think the best thing about Pacific Sands is that things that I learned during my time there are things I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life. It’s so common for teens to learn things in school and then forget them. I don’t feel like thats true for me at all. Wherever I end up going- university or career or just being a person, I’ll always carry the insights and strengths I’ve gained at Pacific Sands.”

I believe in interest-led, self-directed learning. I love helping teens find lives of passion and fulfillment outside of traditional academia.

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