by Elizabeth Perez:

Having to mentally pick myself up isn’t easy. I have three tests tomorrow, and I’m completely checked out. I can’t focus; I can’t think straight. I show up at school fighting back tears sometimes because I can’t stop thinking about the things that happened at home the night before. I know I should have been studying, but instead I was doing service in World War 3. Although school is the perfect escape to get away from the drama at home, it somehow follows me there too.

My grade point average ranges from a 3.6 to a 4.0 and being that it’s the beginning of the school year, the time in which everyone should be acing each class, my grades aren’t looking too pretty. I am at a 2.9, not exactly where an A average student should be during the five week grading period. I can’t blame my grades on anyone but myself, however, the events that went on in my home life played a big part in my performance at school.

High school students deal with many stresses in their lives: whether or not they will graduate, if they will get into college, and how they will pay for college once they get there. A study done by the Massachusetts Department of Education stated that 46% of high school students that drop out do it due to family issues including: lack of parental support, disruptive family life, or death in the family.

Alemany High School varsity baseball player Nicholas Suniga had to endure one of the most painful of the three reasons listed above. Suniga lost his father; he could have easily fit into that 46% dropout rate, but instead of dropping out, he turned his loss into motivation.

Suniga put in more effort than ever before while playing baseball, thinking about his father who was now looking down on him. “If it weren’t for the loss of my dad, as much as I hate saying it, I wouldn’t be the person I am today, and I know for a fact I wouldn’t have earned my scholarship to Cal Poly,” asserted Suniga.

According to studies, he did the opposite of what most students would do. Rather than dropping out, this young baseball player worked hard and got a scholarship.

There is no doubt that the dropout rate in America is higher than that of most countries. Its rank is 19th worldwide. Whether or not American adolescents deal with the most emotionally packed family lives versus other countries in unknown. There is, however, a message for everyone out there, and that is the truth of how family hardships affect a student’s performance in school. Parents like mine believe that there is no reason what so ever why I should not be passing my classes. I am not the only student that has conflicts with their parents.

Senior Mateo Rivera has dealt with some family issues throughout his high school years himself. Rivera’s fights with his mother consumed a lot of his time, causing him to struggle with school work.

Reflecting on his performance of junior year he states, “It affected two of my classes, and I forgot about many homework assignments and messed up a lot.” Had Rivera not had those disputes with his mother, he believes he would have excelled more academically.

Everyone has different ways of dealing with things; there are those select students that take a negative home experience and turn it into something positive. Experiences like Rivera’s and mine show the negative effect family disputes can have on students’ academic performance. Experiences like Suniga’s show the positive effect a loss can have in someone’s performance overall. Whether good or bad, conflict on the family front has an affect on students everywhere.