I went to what was once the 25th best high school in the country, and got to see the best and the worst of what the educational system can offer.
I'll start from the beginning though. I went to Palm Beach Public Elementary School, which was considered a great elementary school. What the hell did I know? I was like 8 years old. But the year before I was supposed to start 6th grade at Palm Beach Public Middle School, they closed it down. I now had to go to my local school, Conniston.
It felt like I was going to school in Compton. It was mostly hispanic, and I was scronny, white and nerdy, and so were my friends. I took a gym class and tried to tell the teacher when I found my trapper keeper in the locker room toilet one day. She told me I shouldn't have left it out.
The 8th graders smoked, I took all the normal classes, and spent free time drawing dinosaurs and Mortal Kombat characters. Towards the end of the year, two 7th graders got in a fight over a wrist watch, which was resolved by a gunshot to the chest. I don't believe they let you have watches in jail or when you're dead and buried in the ground, not that it would do you much good in either place.
The next year, my grandmother offered to pay for me to go somewhere safe, like Catholic school. My mom thought it would be better to have options, which was fortunate because a new Middle School of the Arts was opening up in time for me to audition. I grabbed all of my dinosaur and Mortal Kombat drawings and hoped that pencil and paint would save me from yardsticks and uniforms.
7th and 8th grade were mostly normal, but because I went to a magnet school, at least two of my classes were art classes. The rest of my classes were identical to any other school, but what made my school "better" was that I could take classes I wanted in the fine arts.
High school was basically a continuation of that. Normal high school classes supplemented with electives in the arts. My grades were below average, even though I discovered a knack for design and film. I aced my AP Statistics midterm, and almost failed my final exam. Physics was the only class I really excelled at because, outside of my art classes, it was the only subject I had an interest in. I graduated with a 2.8 GPA and a fairly decent portfolio for a 17 year old.
I went to three different state/community colleges, and found all of them a useless continuation of high school, except that now they charged me.