Carlos, High School Student, CA

Carlos V.JPG

A good life would be calm and relaxed - not having to stress about anything, just have it be a good easy life.  Then, a good family, and a good job, and an easy death.

Carlos is a junior in high school in California.  He was interviewed while partaking in a REENVISIONED #schoolpartnership #studentvoice project at his school in which students interview each other and adults in their lives, and reflect together on school and what makes a good life.

The first question is just to please describe yourself.

How would I describe myself?  I am funny, energetic, athletic and, yeah, that's pretty much it.  Lazy sometimes. My friends would describe me as funny, friendly, and bossy sometimes.

How would your family describe you?

My family would describe me as loving, and caring, and…yeah.

How old are you and what grade are you in?

Seventeen and I’m a junior.


Can you talk me through what your day was like yesterday?

Well, it’s pretty much the same day every day.  I have the same classes at the same time.  I just pretty much come to school.  I always wake up late because I have the mindset of waking up exactly at 9 and it means I get here kind of late because our school starts at nine. I just get through the day.  I mean it's pretty easy - just focus on what the task is for that day and just get through it.

What subjects do you have right now?

I have an advisory in the morning and then I have government and then after that I have econ and then history.

Which is your favorite right now?

Probably advising because we don't really have something that we have to focus on all the time.  We have different things we can be learning or not learning.  How do you say it?  You can be reading a book or watch a movie or something else – it’s a variety and you have choice.  I mean, everyone does one of the things, there are only a certain number of choices, but they give you some things you can choose from.


What do you feel like is the best parts of your life right now?

Right now it’s just getting through high school.  I’m trying to focus on high school and just get through it.  But I also have a job, so I go to work after school.

Where do you work?

Planet Fresh downtown.

Oh I don’t know it, what is that?

It’s a burrito place.  It's cool.

Do you like it?  What do you do there?

Yeah I like it.  Right now I'm a supervisor, so I just  supervise other people on their doing.

How long have you been working there?

For about two years.



When you're grown up - in your thirties out of school - what are three things that you want that you think would make it a good life?

First I would want a good life - just like no stress, you know.  Have it be calm and relaxed - not having to stress about anything, just have it be a good easy life.  Then, a good family, and a good job.

When we did this in class you had written something interesting – you said you wanted to have an easy death or something along those lines, can you tell me more about that?

That's just…I don't know…I'd rather not have to stress in life and deal with all those negative emotions.  If I'm not healthy enough later on in life, I'd just rather just like have a calm relaxing death.  Like go to the doctors and get a shot my vein or something and just die, or die in my sleep or something.

It’s not something many people think about.


If you ask adults in your life what they want for you and you're in your thirties, do you think they’d say the same thing or something different?

Oh, I don't know.  I did have a conversation with my mom about that, about the easy death.  She asked me, “what do you want to do when you're grown up?” and I told her that if I have a shitty life and I'm just so stressed all the time and I'm not healthy and I have to go through all the surgeries and do all that, well then I would just rather take like my life.  She was like, no, that's weird because I’d rather you try to live life to the Max.  But in the end she was supportive and said, “well, if that's what you want to do then that's what you wanna do”, you know.

What do you think that she would say about the other things - about a family and a job?

I think she would just say the same thing - just have a good family and have a good job.  Something where it's easy to maintain and just be getting paid.  Try to make a living out of it at least.


Do you think that this school will help you create that life you want?

Yes - in a way yes, because we just literally had a job fair two days ago. Where different people from different jobs come in and interview all of us.  And a lot of people did get hired. I think that this school has a lot of resources to help kids.  I think if I’m in my senior year and this job isn’t working out then I think they’ll help me get a different one.

Do you think it helps you with the good family part?

What do you mean?

If a good life is a good job and a good family, do you think school prepares you in any way for a good family?

I don't think so, no.


Is there anything that you wish the school were doing to help you more right now?

No.  Because, I mean,  I'm pretty caught up on my grades and I'm doing whatever it takes to graduate.  So right now, no.  But maybe if I was behind on credits, then I would ask for more resources.


What do you think is the most important thing you're learning right now?

History.  Because it has so much to do culture today, how it was back in the day. and like how it like it is in no way the same to like real life scenarios now

Can you say more about that?

Right now we're learning about how it was back in the day when it was like whites and blacks all separated.  Then how racism isn’t over yet here.  It's just like it hasn't gone away since forever.  It's been here forever and why can’t it just be gone?  Because it's really just nonsense.

Why do you think it’s not gone?

I don't know. I guess everyone's different in this way


Who has been your favorite teacher up until now?

I think my eighth grade teacher because in eighth grade it was like not like in high school.  I remember I had an open period for my first class.  I would go to my teacher's class, her name was Ms. Taylor, and then I would just do my homework or whatever I had to catch up.  That helped me pass middle school.

Was there anything that she did in particular?

She took me out to eat sometimes too.  She would let me talk about how school is, and not just school, but she’s ask me, like “how are you doing and how is your family?”  So, yeah, it was that she just took me out to eat and talked to me, I guess.

I think it's often the teachers who actually pay attention to you as a person that matter most.



If you were going to give any advice to adults about how they should treat kids, or something they should know about being a teenager today, what would you tell them? 

I think just to understand what students going through, because you guys lived this too. Teachers were also a teen once.  So just to understand what's going on in their life.

What do you feel like they don't understand? 

I don't know, I guess, just what's going on in their normal day-to-day life.  Like how they're doing at home.  They just see what we have to go through during school, you know, not what we had to do after school. 


Can you tell me about the time that you learned something and it felt really empowering, like it felt really good to have learned it or achieved it.  It could be in school or out of school.

I think it's just learning to communicate.  If you’re struggling to communicate with a lot of other people, then you cannot go talk about the resources you need that they might have. Resources for you to, like, go to an after school program, or whatever you need help on. So learning how to speak up for yourself and just say what you have to say is empowering. Because not a lot of people have the courage to speak up for themselves.

Yeah.  Did anyone teach you how to do that?

Not really.  I just would start to ask for what I needed.  Explain my case and ask, “can you help me with this?”  I mean, they say to us that we are supposed to ask for help if we need help – so you might as well take advantage. So I try to do that.


Why do you think that we have schools as a society? 

I think just so that we can learn the basics in life, I guess.  The know-how of life, pretty much.  But also putting knowledge into your brain.


Okay, just a few additional questions for you. 

What advice would you give to a new 9th grader about how to navigate high school well?

Pay attention and do whatever it takes to catch up on credits the more you get the faster you get through high school.


If you had a magic wand, what is one thing you would change about school?

I wish I would be able to learn everything in one day and not have to take a quarter of my life on school.


Is there anything I didn't ask you that you think I should have about school or about life that you think is important?

No, not really.  Well, maybe.  I don't know, maybe something more about the teachers – like, “how do you get along with your teachers?”

So how do you get along with them?

I get along well with my teachers.  At least I get along with them pretty good right now.  I mean, we don't really have deep conversations but I guess you can say it's a good relationship because we don't have to have a bad conversation.  They don’t have to say, “give me your phone,” because I'm just always on task, I guess, so we’re not yelling or having negative conversations.

Thank you very much for talking with me!

10,000 Stories. One Shared Vision.

REENVISIONED is a national movement to redefine the purpose of school.  We believe schools should foster flourishing individuals and a thriving democratic society.  But what does it mean to thrive or flourish? 

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