Aly Dahmen

"The day I switched to ERATS was the day my life changed forever. School was never my strong suit. I hardly ever did enough to get by until coming to this school. It was like a second home with one big dysfunctional family. I made so many friends while I was at ERATS and I graduated with all A's and B's opposed to my previous D's and F's. I love you guys all so much. I graduated last year and I can't help but come back to visit. I remember our water fights, Nerf wars, and cupcake fights the most. Foster taught me to love English, Troutwine math, Strukel History, and Walters got me back into Art. You guys mean the world to me and I can't thank you enough for everything you've done for me over the last 3 years."

The Reimer FamilyParent, Angela Storbeck Reimer

"Thank you so much for being a school that my daughter has succeeded in!! The regular public schools don't give the one on one attention like you do and have the AWESOME staff that cares for each student not as a number, but as a person!! My daughter Lexi Reimer has 3 A's, 3 B's and a C+ and I know for sure she would NOT have those grades if she stayed at her other school. This place I feel is a gift from God and we are blessed that this school is available for students like Lexi Reimer. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!!"

Channyn Johnson

"Growing up I bounced around to different schools. I was looking for a place where I felt not only comfortable, but also happy in my surroundings. I was also longing for teachers that cared about me and for a friend. After searching for these things at three different schools I finally settled back to a previous one that I had been at. I made terms with the fact that high school had to end at some point, and that I would move on to traveling and simply living day by day. During my junior year I heard about a Charter school that was thirty-five minutes away from my home. At first I gave it no thought at all, but over the summer I decided to transfer. Within the first month of school my outlook on life changed. I was surrounded by teachers that genuinely cared about me and by friends that weren’t out to stab me in the back.

Many people have negative thoughts about Charter schooling. They think that it’s for troubled teenagers, kids who are taking the easy route, or for kids who have simply given up school. These allegations couldn’t be further away from the truth. Charter school has a much heavier load of homework that challenges students to exceed beyond what they think they are capable of doing. Also, it’s not that us students have given up in school. It’s that they have given up on the favoritism that happens in public schooling. Most students thrive on teachers who care and who are there to help them, not judge them.

While attending public schooling every week I fought to keep my head up. My surroundings made it easy for me to slip through the cracks and be unnoticed. It’s not that I wanted to be alone, but that I felt that no one cared about me. As I bounced from school to school it was this way over and over again. Many of my teachers gave all of their attention to the kids in sports and paid no attention to the kids who were not part of a team. I watched in anger as I turned in assignment after assignment and continued getting bad grades on them. Then I would look next to me and see a football player answer three questions and get one hundred percent. I learned that in public schools it was all about making sure team players got good enough grades to keep them in the game.

When I switched to the Charter school this completely changed. It wasn’t about favoritism, but making sure each student blossomed into the person they would become once they graduated and entered into the real world. The teachers really cared and offered many hours of their own time to watch their students succeed.

Becoming an individual during my senior year was the thing that I longed to find in other schools. I wasn’t being forced to hide anymore, but instead I was being pushed to welcome my talents that public schooling ignored. Not only did I blossom into a new person, but I also watched other people do the same. Finally we were all in an environment that understood that in order to succeed in life we needed to find ourselves, not just receive passing grades and a diploma.

In public schooling there are the generic classes with AP classes once you become a junior or senior. Most classes, depending on the school, have 30 or more students. Every day you have your set classes with little opportunity to have one-on-one time with the teacher. In Charter schools you have a wide variety classes that meet people’s interests. There are classes like Japanese culture, Zoology, Robotics, Forensic Science, and more. You also have many opportunities to have one-on-one time with the teachers. At the school that I went to Fridays were set aside for help from the teachers. Like I said before, the teachers put many hours into us. It created a special atmosphere for school. With all the time and the unique people, school became more like a home than a prison. It became a place that I loved going to day after day, instead of dragging myself out of bed every morning I awoke with a sense of peace about going to school.

I have met many people during my school-jumping years. Just as I was a stranger to them, all of those people will be a stranger to me. The only lasting impression that was left on me from public schools is that it’s a place of ordinary people who are afraid to jump out of the norm until after they leave. It’s a social game instead of a learning and growing environment. Public school wasn’t a place for me because of that. However, when I went to East Range Academy of Technology and Science, a small Charter school, my opinion on school changed. Everyone there wanted to fight against what public schools are known for and created a unique place that teaches people how to become themselves. No one is ordinary and Charter schools welcome that."

Cody Russell

Cody hugging his mom at graduation 2012"I came to ERATS because my other school didn’t give me the motivation I needed. I had a lot of personal things going on at home and the teachers there just couldn’t accept that. I understand that bigger schools have more to deal with, but it is hard to concentrate when you don’t even know what is going on in class. ERATS will work around your family problems. Everybody has a different way adapting to learning. At ERATS, you always have an opportunity to talk to a teacher about what is going on in class. There is always a person to talk to. Every teacher serves as a counselor in their own way. Every teacher will take the time out of their busy day to listen to you. It could be a personal problem, or a problem you are having in class. The smaller class sizes definitely helped me. It made it way easier to pay attention. It is a lot easier to stay on top of things at ERATS. Without ERATS, I would have had to end up getting my GED. They seriously changed my life."

Another ERATS Parent

"I sent my daughter to ERATS, because her other school wouldn't do anything. She was getting mostly Ds and being bullied every day in almost every class. The old school had nothing but excuses. She would come home, frequently, crying & always wanted to stay home from school. She was so unhappy there. At ERATS, she got As & Bs, never bullied, and she could be true to herself. She only cried tears of laughter when taking about school. She never wanted to miss a day. She was VERY happy there. ERATS was the best thing that happened to her."

Sarah Gustafson

"Before I came to ERATS, I was struggling trying to make friends and maintain my grades. I was always bullied for being different. Most of my old teachers were great and felt sorry for the things I was going through just trying to learn. It got to the point where I dropped out for a few weeks and decided to just get my GED because I felt no one should have to go through such pain to learn. I was lost and so down on myself it was hard to feel wanted anywhere. I never belonged anywhere. My mom told me about ERATS when reading the paper and told me to try it out. From the first moment I walked into the school I felt right at home. People were talking to me and making me feel like an actual class mate and not just a target for hurtful words and physical abuse. Every year got better and better and so did my grades. I came to ERATS with horrible grades and even failing the 9th grade basically. I left ERATS with way better grades, the best of friends, amazing memories i would not trade for anything, a chance to be accepted and show my talents, and more importantly the thing I wanted most... a high school diploma. I feel like ERATS really saved my life in the long run. I am so proud of where I graduated and all the things I got to experience and learn that I never would have anywhere else!"