180 Turn Around: Yerba Buena High School

Silicon Valley De-Bug has had the honor and privilege of working with an extraordinary group of students in Yerba Buena High School's 180 Class. The 180 Class, taught by Charles Fowler, created a transformative experience for a group of YB students who were previously struggling in school and academics; this being the purpose of the class to give the students a 180 turn around. Now, these amazing students are achieving in the classroom and have found new purpose in not only their education but in their greater community as well.

Prisila Gonzalez

Poverty, abuse, depression, violence these are just a few things to let you in on how my past was. After the divorce of my mom and dad, after their 15 year long abusive relationship, after moving in with my grandma once again after going from house to house, after losing everything my family and I owned due to poverty, after losing my best friend, my dad and half my family, I felt more alone than ever. Loneliness came in; I put my guard up to keep me getting hurt again. Trust issues, depression, struggling for money, suicidal thoughts, and drugs were my only way out, isolation, it was me, and I only had myself. After everything that had happened no way I was going to risk attachment just leading up to abandonment again. All this at home affected me at school, if I didn’t have real support at home; I felt I didn’t matter at school.

Going into the 180 class I was still self-serving, egotistical, cynic, and crude, but now I'm forgiving, more obliging, open, joyous, motivated and wiser. The 180 degrees class has taught me, we live in a community all together. It has taught me that it is crucial to support one another. It has taught me equality, correspondence, harmony and kinship. Not only will you gain support emotionally and school wide, but you will gain a second family. I’ve learned that it’s okay to need and ask for help sometimes in order to achieve your goals. I now know that when I do, I have a whole class to and a pretty cool teacher that will help and support me.

Thanks to my time in the 180 degrees class I am more encouraged and dedicated to graduating high school and going to college. In addition it has made me really want to make sure I major in being a veterinarian so that I can follow my dream of helping animals. Being a veterinarian was really all I had interest in, but after graduating 180, I’ve been taught to open up with consideration in my community and I can possibly volunteer with other teenagers in something serviceable. 180 degrees has been a really a big influence on me, academically and emotionally. For everyone going into that class as years ago, take advantage and be grateful for it. I would do anything to have that whole experience again and gain the knowledge and help I received all four years of my high school experience.

Arturo Vargas

Before this class I was struggling tremendously in and outside of school. I felt like I was on my way to be nothing in life and I didn’t picture myself graduating high school. In school, I would struggle with grades and communicating with my teachers, I felt like they didn’t care about me or what I would be doing in 5 years of my life. One of my bad experiences in school was in 6th grade my teachers assistant tied me to a chair with duct tape and taped my mouth shut because I was always talking in class I felt embarrassed while my classmates and teachers laughed at me. After that incident I didn’t care about school because I thought why would I if a teacher is so desperate to tie me with duct tape and tape my mouth shut. I would be on campus and wonder to myself, “why would any teacher care about me.” I thought all teachers were the same and that they only cared about the smart kids that would get good grades and that would get honor roll. When high school started I went to Del Mar High School, but got transferred to Yerba Buena during half of the year. I didn’t know any of the students and I was desperate to make friends. When I did make friends they weren’t a good influence on me because I started doing bad stuff. For example, for a large portion of me second semester, I didn’t go to class, I didn’t care about school either. Ultimately, I regretted doing that because now I am behind credits.

During this class I have figured myself out. Now I know what I want to do in life. Honestly, this class saved my high school experience and now I am determined to graduate high school and go to college.  No other teacher gave me hope like Mr. Fowler; he made me realize that I am important in life. In this class I also made great friends that I know that I will never forget. Before this class I never knew I could exchange my emotions with others without getting judged, everyone in this class is like family to me and I love them! I accomplished so much in this class. I got better grades A’s and B’s and made the varsity soccer team as a sophomore. My favorite activities in this class included writing about your past and showing your emotions with the class. This class is different because it makes you feel wanted in there. We laughed, we cried, I never want to say goodbye to my family, I love this class it changed my life. Even if I fall just know I’m going to try until I finally succeed.

Now that I know I can succeed in life, I know what I want to do when I’m older. In the future I’m going to graduate high school and go to college. I am determined to be successful, but I will never forget the man who changed my life, Mr. Fowler. When I’m older I want to start my own organization to help out my community. I want to start a sport project to keep youth and teens off of the street and away from trouble. I want to give back to my community and support anyone who wants to do well in life. When I’m older I want to be a teacher also so I can show students that there are teachers that care about you and know what they have been through. I want to be the teacher that helps students and supports them all the way without questioning them on how their day went. I hope to be as good of a teacher as Mr. Fowler was because he has made a great impact on my life. I know I’m going to appreciate everything he has done for me for the rest of my life. I hope to get a scholarship and go to college at SJSU and play A1 college soccer and from that hopefully go professional and have a family by then but I will never forget my classmates they made me who I am today and I love them for that.

Jesus Rivera

Before I had this class I was practically set for failure. I had mostly F’s and D’s I didn’t even graduate middle school. I would always get in trouble I would get referrals and get suspended. I’d talk back to my teachers and even cuss them out. I would mostly spend my time in the office or in detention. I hated school it was the worst for me. I had like the worst attitude towards everything and I had really low confidence for myself. In the area I lived in I heard a lot about gangs, gang violence, and gang related deaths all that crap. I had issues with my family I wouldn’t listen to them I’d talk back to my mom and smack around my brothers, act out at home. I’m pretty sure everyone saw me as a “fuck up” like a person that didn’t care about anything and I honestly didn’t.

During this class I learned I can actually accomplish something, I actually tried in school I tried getting my grades, tried on tests. I helped out Mr. Fowler with one of the free markets for the homeless. This class made me change the way I treat my brothers I don’t yell at my parents I listen to them, we argue less and I don’t have as many problems. I felt accomplished with reducing my anger, and my discipline referrals in school went down. My favorite activities from this class were all the little games we play because they were games, but they all meant something there was always something to learn from them. This class is way different for my other classes because I felt listened to and cared for.

Thanks to all of what I’ve learned in this class my future in brighter, I plan on becoming a firefighter in San Jose or in Los Gatos. By becoming a firefighter I will help out my community with emergencies. I want my family to be a good united family I’m not going to make the same mistakes I’ve learned to be better. I’m going take everything I’ve learned and use it in my everyday life.

Octavio Rodriguez

        Since I was small I would always find myself struggling in school. This was due mostly due to the fact that English was hard to understand for me. I come from a bad community that included violence, gangs, and poverty. Poverty affected my family a lot. At times, my mother barely even had enough money for rent. We couldn’t really buy a lot of stuff like I would want. All I could do is be grateful for what my mom could get. As I got older began to see school more as a place I go to where they make money off me for simply sitting in a desk, than actually learning about stuff of feeling cared for. Due to these feelings I would walk around school and I would think to myself “I can’t make it here” and “I don’t want to try.” I saw myself as someone who was destined to be unsuccessful in life. One teacher I had my freshmen year was particularly cruel and made me feel worse about myself. She would get me placed in in-house detention for what felt like the smallest things. Once she got me in house for almost a week just for saying she has “stupid rules”. Due to actions like this with teachers I began to act in a negative way both at school and home because I would think every adult would be the same.    

       My sophomore year I got to be in a great class with such a great teacher, that class was the 180 Degrees program or the “Opportunity Class” as it was shown on my schedule. It was because of this class that I learned, that I am important and can actually do something with my life. I learned I can get through school by having a positive attitude and doing what I have to do. Although I saw so much poverty, gangs, racism, and violence in my community I learned I can make a difference. One big thing I learned is that, if nothing is said, nothing will change. In the past, my family and I have had a weak bond since my freshmen year, but now because of the way this class changed me I can get along with my family a lot better. I feel now that my family and I can get through tough times as long as we are strongly united and work well together. I honestly have felt that in this class we have built such a great bond, we are like a second family and that is exactly what I needed to be successful this year. My grades this year changed from C’s to B’s and B’s to A’s. Also, my attendance and my attitude changed. This was all thanks to my great teacher Mr. fowler. One of the best memories with this class and one I will never forget was when we went to San Jose State together. We had lots of fun.

        Everything I have learned in this class has pushed me to see school differently. I’ve been taught to take advantage of school, and get something out of it instead of it feeling that it was taking something from me. This class not only made me see that about school, but also in family and community if we want to make something we have to struggle for it. I’ve learned how to handle being angry and not take it out on people and definitely not myself. It has taught me to have self love and self respect which I will constantly use in life. These principles also make it easier to get along with my family. I’ve also learned to stand up against something that is bad in my community. As long as you do so, it will change. Everything I’ve learned in this class I want to use. I want to make a change in people’s lives in any way I can. Due to my love for soccer, I would like to try to get better and hope one day play professional soccer.  If it was not for this class I wouldn’t see myself as actually being successful in life and doing what I want in life. I see myself playing pro soccer, helping children who want to use sports to escape from their negative experiences in life. In this way I will be spreading what I have learned to others.

Els Kalati

Before this class there was many struggles I went through in school, with my family, and in my community. I didn’t care about school or anybody that would actually try to help me with my school work. I had a lot of anger in me and I would always get kicked out of class every single day not only once, but maybe two or more than two times a day. I also started to hang out with the wrong crowd and we would always ditch school or just walk around the school campus like we own it. My grades weren’t good, but I wanted to play sports, but I couldn’t because I had to have good grades so I could be able to play sports. All the teachers that I had in my freshman year told me that I am not going to graduate high school or never going to make it to college. People make mistakes and I’m one of those people I’m not perfect and no one is perfect, but I’m going to prove all the people that had thought about me not graduating high school or not making it too college because my G.P.A was too below average. Before this class I felt like I was nobody.

During this class I realized I am somebody, I was somebody when I came, I will be a better somebody when I leave, I am powerful and I am strong, I deserve the education I get here. During this year in this class I learned about the “rose that grew from the concrete” and I was that rose because I went through so many things before I came to this class. I almost joined a gang because I thought it was good to be in it. I almost tried doing drugs and other things that has nothing to do with my goals that I set for school and for my future. I didn’t do these things though because this year in this class I changed a lot. For example, like I started to think more mature things and act more like a student. In my other classes I didn’t do anything because they were the ones that told me that I’m not going to graduate high school and move on to college. Mr. Fowler is the only one that helped throughout this whole school year and he’s the only one that told me I’m going to graduate high school and be successful in life. He didn’t just help me with school he picked me up every morning for school and he’s always on time. Every day I thank god for him because there’s hardly even anybody that has the kind of heart. He’s willing to help kids like me and he also keeps his word and can never thank him enough for everything that he helped me with. This is my second family forever and it will always be my second family.

Due to being in this class I set a lot of goals for my future, some are really big, but I feel like I can take them on because of what I learned in this class. My first goal is to graduate high school with a scholarship and go to college. I want to make it to the NBA and play basketball forever in my life and invite all of my family members from all over the world and also my second family that helped me throughout this school year. I’m going to do this for my family and travel everywhere and spend time with my family. I want to help out homeless people and give them shelter and feed them and give them whatever they need help with. I’m going to make my family happy and I also want to buy a big house for my whole family and show them that all the things that they taught me with it surely made me successful in life and I’m going to have the most beautiful wife and kids that god is going to give me.

Jacob Ahumada

Before the 180 class, I was struggling horribly. I was failing in every class. One of the hardships that I faced was that my family thought I was dumb, which made me hate school even more. I struggled in school mostly because didn’t like any of the teachers who were teaching the classes. I also saw school as boring and full of people who just wanted to get paid. I didn’t know what I was going to do for my future and I didn’t really care. One of the teachers I disliked the most didn’t even know how to teach a class. I am pretty sure adults and teachers saw me as future dropout. When I would walk around school I acted like I hated school, because I did.

In my 180 experience I learned a lot about self love and I also learned about what it meant by being a crab in a barrel. Learning these things really made me think before I said anything. In school before I was failing, but now I’m doing better. One of my goals actually was to do better in school so I guess I accomplished it in my time here. One of my favorite activities from this class was when we played the question game. It’s a game where you pull a question from a jar and you answer it aloud. Also, when we went on our field trips those were great times and full of great memories that I will never forget. This class is really different than I expected. Many of my other classes were boring compared to the 180 class.

Due to all that I have learned in this 180 degrees program class, I have learned a lot about schools and how they really work. So I see school now as something of prison that you go to for half the day, but I make the best of it. In addition, my family has now noticed the change in my school work. With the things I have learned in this class I will use them for the rest of high school. I see myself in ten years as a successful young fellow, doing what I love skateboarding.

Melina Sanchez

In my past my school experience wasn’t as good as I expected. I thought I would like high school when I started it. When I started, it wasn’t even as nice as I expected because I had teachers doubting me all the time. Telling me I would never make it through high school. They made me feel like that I’ll never go anywhere in life.  During this time of my life I remember that things in my community and my family were pretty normal or average. When I was I younger I actually liked school a lot I would always go, but now that I’m in high school I don’t even try anymore because all of the teachers that doubt me and think I’ll never have a shot in life. I was actually a good kid when I was younger I would never get to school late I would never miss school, I would be at school on time, but since I got to my freshman year I just stopped going to school on time. I didn’t like being in my classes because the teachers would only criticize me, it was like they never had anything good to say to me. Sometimes they wouldn’t even let me participate in my in the class activities. I found myself being mostly quiet in my classes and never really do anything. This was not how I normally was though, I changed myself at school because at home, I was a different person I was more aggressive towards people when I was at home. In summary last year I struggled a lot due to lack of teachers caring about me and feeling disconnected to school.

               My experience with the 180 class I can say helped me a lot, because now I don’t doubt myself about school anymore, cause I know I can do it, I have support from my classmates and teachers. School has become much better for me, I have nice teachers that don’t doubt me like the ones I had last year! I liked this year better than last year, because I met new people in my 180 class that I know will help me out with whatever I need and talk to them if I need someone to talk to. In addition, my relationship with my mom has transformed and become much better. Also the relationships with everyone else in my family have also greatly improved. I think it has transformed because I don’t have to really stress about the teachers giving me their negative comments because this year, I have better teachers. In addition this year, I accomplished some goals that I wanted to accomplish, like getting a better relationship with my mom, and having a better attitude towards everybody else. I don’t really have a “favorite” memory in my 180 class because I enjoyed being here in general it was the best class so far in my life! This class was different from my other classes because my teacher supports me a lot.

The lessons I learned from this class and my 180 experience as a whole, will probably impact me in the future on how I see school. I don’t know how I will look at school, but right now, it’s still sort of negative. I hope in the future everything with my family will get better in a lot of ways. In my community I hope I get to know my community a lot more in the future. With the things I’ve learned in this class so far I don’t know what I’ll do actually. I see myself in 10 years because of this class; in medical school cause I’m still trying to be a plastic surgeon! So I hope in the future I will accomplish my goal as a plastic surgeon and I won’t give up anymore. I have to first finish high school. In this 180 class it made me really think about how you shouldn’t give up on yourself even if the teachers aren’t giving you support find someone who will and always keep pushing.

Malia Stevenson

When I use to go to school, I would always get made fun of. People would talk about how I looked or what I’d be wearing and what not. They would say I was dumb because they thought I couldn’t be loud and fun and not be smart at the same time, but little did they know I excelled in my grades efficiently. My community would just see me as the “buster” girl that lived on Sultana Dr. or also known as “The Buster House”. My family judged me the most though just for being different from all of them. They’d say I’d become a “drop out” just like the rest of them. My family made me feel like I didn’t have the capability to graduate middle school, nor even high school. Pretty much, they thought I’d be a teen mom or something dumb like that. I never really had their support. On the other hand, because of everything I would go through outside of school, it affected me during school. I hated school just like everyone else. I felt there was no purpose in going. My teachers didn’t support me in anyway either. They didn’t care if I understood the assignment or not. All they cared about was going home at the end of the day. I could say half of what went through my head was negativity, not towards anyone, but to me. I felt I had no future that I couldn’t become anything in life because I was always the person to let people get to me. I didn’t show it, but when I would get home everything got to me hard. That’s probably why I didn’t care about much. I didn’t care if I got bad grades; I didn’t care if I got suspended, or even if I were to get into a fight every other day. Let’s just end this as, my past really sucked and I went through a lot. I’m not saying I’m the only person with a messed up past because everybody has their story and this just so happens to be mine.

Once I started my sophomore year, I had two periods with this big white guy named Charles Fowler. I was thinking to myself, “He’s just some crazy white guy trying to make his money and dip.” The class was a 180 class. At that time I thought I had this class because I was a bad kid or something. On the first day Fowler opened up to us, and told the class what he was really about and what he went through. When I started learning more and more about him, I didn’t feel as if he was my teacher, I felt he was a good friend. I was able to trust him with almost about anything. Having this class though, was the best experience I’ve ever had in my school days. Being in this class got me to learn about myself that I’m actually worth something, that if I really pushed myself to do better that I can do what I truly want to do. Also, I’ve done A LOT better in my classes, not just because I did the work and what not, but because I had a huge amount of support from the class. To me, this class is my second family. I can go to anyone for advice, or get help from any of them on something. Everything that goes on around me, I’m able to deal with it much better. Since this class, my family has noticed that I’ve been doing better as well. They actually talk to me about how my day went; they have more faith in me than they ever did before. During this class, I’ve set a couple goals for myself. One of the goals is to do better in school which I already am, and the other goal is to graduate high school and make my family happy. The class itself will be the BEST memory I have, especially the people in it. I never thought I’d learn so much about my classmates. It was quite shocking learning some of the things I did about people I’ve known since middle school or even elementary school. This class was different from any other because treated each other as a family. We understood each other, and treated each other with respect. If it wasn’t for Fowler and the work and time he put into us, I’d probably still think I had no future for myself.

Thanks to all the lessons and things I learned from this class I have a lot more self confidence. I know I’m capable of doing way more than what I have expected. My long term goal is to become a lawyer, and possibly be a judge. In about 10 years I see myself having 7 kids, and just being successful. I feel like I can take on any challenge given to me.

Joseph ‘Smove’ Miles

In my school, before this class I did not pay attention as much as I should have. In addition, I did not really take school seriously because I was too busy doing a lot of bad stuff in my community. I was out in the streets too much and it made me look bad. I was always out with my friends, but it was always getting kind of boring, so I was glad when I got into this class because it pushed me to stop even more. Despite doing bad stuff out in the streets I always had my family who has been there for me no matter what. All the people in my family would show me love and do stuff for me. The only difficult thing I got from my family was that they raised me around the things they did. For example, my family and friends constantly were consumed by drugs and violence. So, before this class I didn't really have a hard life  It was mainly just because of growing up around certain things just the things I know my family did I wanted to do them too that held me back. Personally before this I struggled with paying attention and listening, like in class there would be times that I didn't really know what to do.

During this class I learned that school is something you need and that it mostly controls where your life goes and so you should take advantage of it while you can. During this class I learned that my community is in need of a lot of help and that it not fair how some people are treated and a lot needs to change. During my time in this class my family was still the same and they were supportive when I accomplished my grades getting better and when I got to play basketball this year. My favorite experiences in this class was when we had people come in and tell us about their life and what happen in it. Another important experience was getting to know my classmates and getting closer especially during our field trips out in the city of San Jose together. During this class I learned so much, but I especially learned that there are teachers out there that actually care, like Mr. Fowler. 

This class showed me that I should go for what I want in life and not let anything hold me back. Where I see myself in ten years is in the NBA, in a big house, filthy rich, getting money, no kids, with my squad all of us paid big. All of this would happen because of this class. I would do this so I could move my mom in dad to a different state and into a big house. If ever get rich who I am would give back to my community and money and clothes so they can get rich to.

Angelina Arenas

In my past I had my dad drinking 24/7 and my mom using meth. Slowly and painfully my mom and dad started fighting more and my dad started to get violent. It became a routine they started arguing, hitting, than us packing and leaving and coming back the next day it was the same cycle over and over again. By the time I started to realize what was going on I was in 6th grade and I had a boyfriend, but he didn’t really know about my family, but no one did. Three months in he met my dad the very next day he cheated on me; being so young it broke me I couldn’t be the same. Dad was still drinking and it was constantly getting worse. For example, one night he came into my room so drunk he had a knife in his hand and slit his wrist, dripping with blood sitting on the floor it was 5am and I had to run down the street to my grandmas and tell her what happened, cops showed up he went to the hospital. New Years 2009 my dad got stabbed 7 times one inch away from his heart. June 4 , 2009 my mom went into labor and my dad left the hospital drunk, drove down McLaughlin park and got shot 9 times. We moved out March 9, 2011 and my dad went to prison June 17, 2011 he got sentenced 3 years with 2 strikes. Around November of 2011 my mom found herself a new boyfriend within a month she was pregnant and she stopped paying rent so we lost our apartment so we moved in with her boyfriend. All of this made school and life very hard, I struggled with my grades and attendance because I didn’t care about school I was too stressed out from my dad going to prison, the violence in my home, and the poverty we faced all the time.

When I first started the 180 class with Mr. Fowler I didn’t know if I would like it or if it would help me because ,I didn’t know anyone and I hated talking in front of people it was my biggest fear. As time passed by I slowly started to open up more about my past, but there was still stuff I was hiding and it was killing me. We started to do more activities such as the “rose that grew from concrete” and the “group circle” every Monday. It was then that I started to realize they are my second family, we have everything in common and we are there to support each other throughout all the drama and bullshit. November we had our first field trip. I that point I was still shy and everything, but going and knowing I went to eat and to the movies with a group of people that love and support me felt so good. I started to talk more to Fowler and he helped me realize a lot of things, he taught me self confidence, self love, how to see life, how to hustle school, how to be independent and still be okay. He also taught me that violence is not okay no matter the circumstances; he made me feel like I was appreciated and loved by my second family! He became my dad, whenever I needed him he was there to talk to me make me feel okay again and each and every time I came out with a stronger attitude. December 12I let my guard down and I got with someone within the class , no regrets everything was perfect at first, but sooner or later I started to realize he wasn’t there when I needed him and I didn’t really have his support. When I was with him I felt happy, but we broke up 4 months in and it really opened my eyes to how people could be. How much it could hurt to lose someone, but no matter what you just need to smile and move on because at the end of the day I will survive and become successful! I AM STRONGER, WISER, SMARTER AND MORE LOVED! BECAUSE OF THIS CLASS I NOW KNOW WHAT I’M WORTH<3

The future I want is simple I want to catch up with my credits and be able to graduate from high school. Being in Mr. Fowler’s class made me realize I can do anything if I set my mind to it. I will either go to San Jose State to be a teacher or San Diego University to open my own business. Still want to help and do Free Markets with Cristina and George. I want to help my mom buy a new house, so she won’t have to worry about having no place to stay. I want to be able to see my sisters and brothers smile and graduate school and know I helped them get that far. Hopefully one day I’ll see my dad again and this time he will have changed.

Brenda Monica

  I remember last year, my freshman year, and I can’t remember much “productive” things that I did. I really didn’t try in school; my grades, attitude, and attendance were poor. In my community, I thought everything I saw was “okay” like the violence and bullying. I would see them as normal and I didn’t realize that there are a lot of bad influences out there that sometimes we don’t even notice. There was not that many good things that surrounded me in my everyday world, these things would teach me or may make me think things I shouldn’t believe. In my family, I would argue a lot with my mom and I would talk back to my family at home. I just didn’t know any better. Anger was the only way I would know to solve my problems. I would see school as nothing important I took my education for granted and I use to think it really wasn’t important for me and I didn’t have big goals. I would set myself to just be something small in life nothing big. I didn’t believe in myself. I remember that my teachers would not even bother to give me work. For example, my teachers would hand out worksheets to everyone, but me, they would see me as a future “drop out”, at home I was a rebel, and in my community just an ordinary girl.

In this class I learned that I’m valuable and I’m capable of many wonderful things and I can get to the point where I want to be in life. In school, now I actually try, I do my work, sure I don’t have straight A’s, but I do have a lot better grades than I did last year, instead of all straight F’s. My grades, attitude, attendance, and academics all improved in a good way. In my community, now I’m aware of how there’s things around me that shouldn’t be happening. in addition, with my family things are better now, I appreciate them a lot more and I’m thankful to have a family in my life because not everybody has one. I’m also grateful for all my family gives me and what they do for me. In this class I got to accomplish things I never thought I was going to accomplish and never even imagine I was capable of. For example, this year I did a lot more work in school that I’ve ever done since my freshman year. As the 180 class, we did a lot of fun activities, almost too much fun. My favorite one was when Mr. Fowler brought people to speak to us for knowledge, motivation and inspiration. I got to learn a lot about them and some helped me understand why sometimes people act a certain way, and they taught me to be the better bigger person. I liked how they would give us examples and also share their own personal experiences and childhood also their struggles and motivations. They compare who they were in the past, who they are now and who they are going to be in the future. Now they’re all successful or they’re in the right path for success. Aside from the guest speakers I liked how Mr. Fowler made us get in a circle and made us talk to the class, and would ask us how we were feeling, what were thinking, and just do weekly checkups on how things are going. Mr. Fowler is an awesome teacher. In fact, he’s the best teacher I’ve ever had; he motivates you daily and always makes jokes to make you feel better. Mr. Fowler would also take us out for field trips; we even had a community project which was a free market to help out the homeless. He took us out to eat at red robin, also took us out for a movie, and to San Jose State University and ice-cream, I’ve had so many good times in this class I will never forget them. 

Due to my time in the 180 degrees class, I have a lot planned for my future and I feel like everything I imagine and want to achieve will be possible. It might not be easy, but there’s always a way to get to the top. This class has impacted me in a good way. It impacted me in school, at home and how I see things and also how I see myself. For my future I have already set goals for myself. One of my goals is that I don’t want kids until I’m age 27 and had already finished school and graduated or am about to graduate. I want to be a dentist or an electrical engineer. In addition I want to focus on and perfect my hobbies like doing hair and makeup. I want to be independent, but also have a family and I also want to do something for the community. I want to be a good mom and teach my kids good habits. I want to be a role model for people to look up to.

Ever Sanchez

In my past I have had a lot of problems like in school, at home, or in my family. I lived in a neighborhood where we had people that would spray paint on the walls and even on cars. In addition I lived in a neighborhood where there was a lot of violence. For example, one time there was this kid who was just chilling in the front and a lot of Asians in a car asked him something then one of them run out of their car and started chasing him all over the place. Then the guy who was chasing him grabbed a brick then threw it on his face he laid there bleeding in till someone called the ambulance. I would see things like this all the time and it really impacted me and did not make me feel safe in my own house. In school, I would come happy, but there was always that one teacher that would ruin your day telling me “I’m never going to make it” and “I’m going to be a high school drop out.” One time this particular teacher said that “I’m dumb” and kicked me out her class for no reason. I hated school because it was the only place I felt left out in and always an outsider .I thought I was going to really drop out because they told me so many times that I started believing it . I thought I was nothing and was always going to be nothing.

During this 180 degrees program class it was truly an eye-opening experience. This class is very different than others because this is the place is a place to get shit of your chest. I learned so many different things about the world including how to not be a crab-in-a-barrel, to have self discipline, and self love .Also I saw school as something way more important than I thought. Mr. Fowler showed us that school is more important than anything else. Before this class I didn’t really pay attention to my community, because I felt there was nothing I can do for that place. There were times that I would walk home with my head down, so I wouldn’t start problems. My attitude change I had anger issues but now I’m not as anger anymore. To me my family was the most important thing in my life, and I consider everyone in 180 classes as my family. I was able to build a community to replace the one I didn’t feel safe in. I care so much about the people in that class that I know I’m going to be missing them at the end of the year. The one thing I told Mr. fowler is that I wanted to change my grades and I did that was my best accomplishment .I had a lot of memories from this class this was my favorite class of the year .This class is the only class I’m going to look back on and actually miss due to all the fun things we did in this class.

Due to all that I have learned in this class I’m looking forward to my future now. To be honest I was scared at first because I didn’t know what to do. I actually thought I was going to drop out but, now I know what I’m going to do in life. When I get older I’m going to take care of my family and everyone I care about, because they sacrificed a lot for me. Also I’m planning to pick up my community off the floor and make it safer for our younger brothers and sisters. Thanks to this class I learned that to not take anything for granted and to get all the help you can get. In ten years I see myself happy with my friends and family and being really happy with my life.

Jorge Valencia

I struggled with many things before this class. For example, I was really disrespectful and didn't care about myself. In school, I had horrible grades, I didn't care about anything or anyone, and I did not get along with anyone especially teachers. One good thing I had going for me was that I volunteered at a community center in my neighborhood for a year in a half before joining this 180 program. My home life was bad; I never got along with my siblings. I was always acting and thinking negatively about my life and myself and created unnecessary arguments with my mom and siblings. In school, I annoyed the hell out of my teachers. I always listened to music and never took off my earphones when my teacher told me to take them off. The only class that I was quiet in was in the classes I slept in. All I ever saw myself was a dumb, lazy, negative, ignorant, and selfish. I never really saw myself doing anything important in my life. To adults I was a waste of time and never tried when it came to me.

As soon as I joined this class I found out that I had way more potential than I thought I did. In addition, I learned that it was better being positive rather than a stubborn idiot. This year I was only failing one class, so I noticed I can actually pass my classes. In January, I joined a program at Yerba Buena called SOAR; this program benefited by gaining a lot of my credits that I didn't get last year. Since I joined SOAR I spent most of my time in Mr. Fowler’s class. While in his class I found out I can do my work on my own. In January, I ended up making an actual organization with my awesome friend Cristina called R.A.D or Regeneration against Destruction! RAD was created after our class final in December. RAD is mainly an organization that mainly focuses on the issue of homelessness here in San Jose. RAD really opened up a window of awesome experiences for both me and Cristina. My favorite thing about RAD is how happy and thankful the homeless people are!  Now because of this class, I respect and talk to my family in a positive way. In addition, my mom is extremely happy with accomplishments I made during this class. My biggest accomplishments during this class was making an organization and accepting the amazing people in this class as my family. I can't really choose a favorite memory from this class, everyday in this class was an awesome experience but, one memory that I really like was our class free market. I really felt like everyone supported and loved each other. This class taught me that you have to try your hardest no matter what! Now I’m 100% sure that I’m graduating high school and that I can show everyone what I am really capable of. During this class I realized that it’s really important to have and keep family close and love them because it feels great having people supporting you. Now I'm on my second, close to third year working in my community. One of my new goals is to find people who have been through things like we have and to show them that they're not alone. Another goal of mine is to go to De Anza College for 2 years and then get into Santa Cruz University. My hobby that I see myself getting more into is photography. In ten years I see myself with a huge happy family and supporting people in my community with my organization. I owe it all to Mr. Fowler and my loving family.

Cristina Uribe

Before this Year School, life, and the world around me was hell in reality. I had bad grades, in school I constantly got kicked out, and I was definitely not caring about school at all. I was known as the “bad kid” people thought I had no life ahead of me. I frequently talked back to those that tried to challenge me. I cared a lot of anger and hate with me all the time, I also made mistakes. I felt lost I  didn't know what path to take all I knew was that if I needed to leave or if I needed a break I would just leave school or ditch. No teachers ever cared everyone looked at me strangely at me as I slipped out of class. All these stares made me feel like I didn’t matter. I sometimes stopped and wondered where I would be in ten years, what would I be doing, will I be successful or down the drain. Every teacher I ever had told me I wasn't going to make it that I was just a failure in life and I wasn't going to be able to accomplish my goals. All through freshman year my teachers all told me I wasn’t going to go anywhere and they would always kick me out of class. They said this all because I didn't get good grades they would tell me that colleges wanted good grades and all I had was below a 3.0. Honestly I gave up; I didn't think I was going to make it any further.  I felt worthless I needed some type of support to believe in me to not give up on me, like everyone else did. I needed someone to tell me I can be whatever I wanted to be and I could graduate and go off to college I guess everyone needs that once in a while.

During this class I have learned so much and built relationships with every person in it. I learned about life and the world around me and what I want to be in life. It is because of this class that I know all about reality and how it impacts people physically and mentally. I learned that this world isn’t all just fun and games woman are out there getting raped , beaten , token away , little kids are dying of hunger or without parents ,our people are living in jungles and creeks for the cause of no shelter . I met a wonderful, caring, loving, teacher Mr. Fowler and before that I never thought someone would care so much about their students. He made a huge impact in my life and in all our lives. In this class, we all changed in our own ways all because of his support. For example, I personally in school I changed all my grades to As and Bs, I don’t ditch classes any more, I don't get kicked out of class, and I passed the CAHSEE on my first try! In addition, because of this class I now feel connected to my community. For example, now I help around and do free markets for the homeless with Mr. Fowler and awesome George as an organization called R.A.D or Regeneration against Destruction. During class my goals and accomplishments were to build relationships and grow as a class and that’s exactly what happened. My favorite activities, lessons, and memories from 180 class was all the laughs and conversations we had and sharing out of our personal experiences. We did assignments like regeneration essays about our life and that I think made all of us even more close , closer than ever .What made this class different was how we were able to show our emotions talk about serious things and get respected unlike other classes where we just sit learn and don't talk or get respected. I’m glad I met Fowler he made my life great and worth living.

It is because of this 180 degrees program class that I have I learned to hustle my school and teachers, to prove them wrong. To prove to them I can be whatever I want to be, regardless of what they saw me as or past mistakes I have made. I learned to always think about the disasters in our community and to think how we can help out. With all the things I’ve learned in this class I want to follow my dreams and also continuing to grow the organization of R.A.D. In ten years I see myself already graduated from Yerba Buena High school class of 2016.I see me happily married with George.  I also plan on going to San Jose State University, I would like to major in criminal justice and become a successful probation officer or undercover cop. I want to be able to help juveniles to keep out of the system as much as I can and to be able to be there for them as their own personal support and yea I wouldn’t want to arrest them all the time I would want to have deep hard conversations and tell them about my life and let them know there are many people out there just like them, to support them and encourage them to do better. Then on the side to be a well known athlete in life I want to play soccer and cross country/track , I think this will show people that I dedicate myself to it and that its not only a guy sport girls can do it better . know for a fact I’m going to achieve my goals because I’ve been told I can do whatever I want in life as long as I concentrate and never give up on what I want . Overall , because of being part of the 180 degrees program , when I think about my future I think there is a huge life out there ahead of me and I will make it above the top .

Gerardo Frias                 

  Before I had this class I never wanted to be in class or at school. I didn’t like it at all because teachers would always make me feel like I didn’t belong there so I wouldn’t go. During this time in my life, I remember my community having a lot of gangs so I started to hang out with some of them when I was young. In addition, I had to deal with my family which was always fighting. Also, I have three sisters and two of them were in gangs so I didn’t have anyone to look up to. I saw school as place to go see my friends and just hang out. Last year, I got kicked out of class for talking a lot, but the thing I didn’t understand was why I and only I if everyone are talking. I would sit and wonder about the teacher, “why don’t you tell them anything because they come on time or they don’t miss school? Not knowing why I never went to class, teachers just judged me and assumed I would be a failure. At the time I didn’t see myself going anywhere I just saw myself as a gangster that didn’t care about anyone or how they felt. For a long time, I didn’t know what I wanted to be or what’s was going to be my future. In school, I was very hard headed and I never took anyone serious I thought. It was all a game and I didn’t have to do anything.

          When I started this class I didn’t think we would be doing all the things we did I thought it was just another class with a teacher that didn’t care if we passed or failed. As the time past us by we started to see each other as a “second family” we saw each other as brothers & sisters. I know I can count on them if I’m ever sad or anything. Honestly I felt like this class gave me the one thing I needed to get through high school. I started to see myself as someone, someone that can do anything I wanted, I can become anything I wanted to be. I can’t think of a better way to have learned what I know today, I’m thankful I have someone like Mr. Fowler in my life he’s really the best. I don’t hate school as much I can go a week without missing class.  I learned that they want us to miss class they want us to talk back, but I’m not falling for that anymore I’m using what I know to get through my classes. I know what I need to pass high school I’m doing all I can to get through school even though I have a lot of things going on in my life  I’m going to show all of them that I can do something with myself and that anyone that really wants to can do it as well.

In my future I see myself doing big things in my life. My future is going to have a happy family. I also, I see myself helping out my community. My future family is going to live in a nice house and a good community. I want one girl and one boy that’s all I want in my future if I can have that my life is going to be perfect. I can't think of a better way to spend my life, but with my family and helping out my community. In my future community is not going to have any gangs, so the kids can go outside to play. If something big happens I want to be there to help out with whatever it is so I can try to make a change. All I have learned in this 180 class I will use everyday when I can. All I want is to change someone for the better, let them know that no matter, that there’s someone that cares about them and that they can do anything they wish to do with their lives. I want to let them know that there is always going to people who talk shit about you, but you just have to show them that no matter how much they talk it’s not going to stop you from doing you. In ten years I see myself working hard, keeping food on my kid’s plate, helping anyone that needs it.

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