In America, 7,000 students drop out of high school every day, according to dosomething.org. To challenge the statistics, a group that includes a journalist, musician, scientist, financial advisor, and community activist came together in a SundanceTV reality show called “Dream School” to inspire more than a dozen dropouts to rediscover their love of learning. This experimental learning lab operated against a backdrop of educational testing and more testing and a focus on memorizing sometimes meaningless material over acquiring practical knowledge. “Dream School” lessons included studying biology by getting close to nature; music via a visit to a recording studio; and economics through the lens of personal finance. Teens say that students should remember: Just because you received a bad grade in school doesn't make you a bad person.
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Death and destruction came five years ago, on January 12, 2010. It was just another routine day — until the earthquake hit the ground. I was coming home from school. I dropped my backpack and went to the living room to start my homework. Outside, it was as bright as a light bulb. And then, suddenly, it got dark. After a few moments, I heard people yelling, glasses and plates breaking. “Oh my God!” I screamed. “What’s going on?” The ground began to shake. I was terrified. I ran to my cousin, who was inside my house. Her eyes were filled with tears. So were mine. We wrapped our arms around each other and stood in the middle of the room like statues. We prayed. I heard a lady outside, saying: “Get out of the house guys. Hurry!” We started running, still holding each other’s hands. The lady hugged us. I could feel her heart beat. I thought the ground was going to open. I thought it was the end of the world for us. The earthquake in Haiti took more than 230,000 lives and left about 300,000 injured. I thought about my mother. She was at work. I heard a car coming down the street. I saw my mom get out and spread her arms open. I ran to her and grabbed on tight. Just the feel of her warm body comforted me without any words.
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I firmly believe that my success lies in doing what I love. I have been categorized as the stubborn girl. I decided to have a relationship with someone my parents considered not to be even close to the right partner. Well, I understood their worries. They thought that he would just play me. But here’s the deal: I knew they were 100 per cent wrong. They thought my grades would go down because of him; today, they are even higher than before. They thought our relationship wouldn’t last longer than a month; we have been together for 16 months. Although this experience has been the hardest one I have ever faced, no other has made me as satisfied. No matter how often failure knocks me down, I will rise even stronger because my success does not depend on anybody but me.
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Success is effectiveness, enjoyment, and contribution. These three words can be combined not only to achieve success, but also to help others and become a better person. One example is my job as a Personal Care Assistant. I am able to be effective by taking care of a man with a disability. I can also learn about his problems and what can be done to help him. I am able to see that not everyone is the same. My biggest contribution besides aiding someone, is helping my family pay its daily expenses. If I just focus and work for today, the future will bring better things. Moreover, if I stay doing what I like, enjoying my time now and contributing to others, I will someday reach my goal of becoming a successful businessman.
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Success is walking through an open door and discovering your passion. Taking advantage of life. When I first came to United States from Cape Verde, I was 15.  My aunt used to take care of children. With no English, it was kind of hard to help her out. One day, I told myself: “Nadia, do what you have to  do to learn English.” From that day on, I started to watch movies, cartoons, and the news in English. I did writing exercises and read aloud to my cousin. Today, I am able to answer back to those kids and I can understand what  they are saying because everything takes practice. Doing what I love was something that helped me learn. I love being with babies and being a great friend to them.
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