Heavy courseload continues

With a full schedule ahead of her, senior Amanda Pelletier has quite a different school day than most students. While spending only three classes at school, she is taking four AP classes this year, along with being a part of the newspaper staff.

Through all of the difficulties with her brain cyst, Amanda insisted upon completing her senior year with a challenging schedule. She loaded her schedule at the beginning of the school year with four AP classes, AP Psychology, AP Literature, AP Biology and AP AB Calculus, along with newspaper and a couple of study halls to add some balance.

Amanda’s parents, Mike and Janet Pelletier, counselor, and teachers have all recognized how hard working she is by the tough schedule she has taken on. Her parents, along with several of her teachers, believe that by taking on such a difficult schedule, it has shown her character as a diligent student.

“Well, we had asked her at the very beginning if she wanted to go in the regular classes, because she was having such a difficult time, and she was very adamant staying in her AP classes … and that she was going to do it or bust,” Janet Pelletier said.

Before the school year started, Amanda’s counselor, Mr. Kris Miller, met with the Pelletier family to set a schedule that could fit into her needs. They decided on Amanda spending three class periods at school while participating in the homebound program for the rest of her classes.

The group settled on this schedule to allow flexibility concerning all of the variables involved in Amanda’s situation. As the year goes on, this schedule allows her to add classes if she is capable to go back to a typical school day.

“She doesn’t always want to admit that there is something wrong,” Mr. Miller said. “There’s been so much uncertainty so it has been a challenge for her and for us to figure out what she needs.”

Not only has Amanda had to change her school schedule, she has also had to become comfortable with having a teacher in her home. Mr. David Range visits her at home twice a week to drop off and pick up any assignments she needs to turn in for her homebound class, AP Psychology.

“It was just weird having a teacher at my house and his character is kinda shy. He is more comfortable now and like we talk more. Danielle has been over when he has been here, and my sister has too. We mess around with him.,” Amanda said. “It was [weird] at first, but now I’m just like, ‘DJ Range, what up?’”

The Pelletier family is very grateful for Mr. Range’s dedication to their family and Amanda’s situation. He visits Amanda on Thursdays and Sundays in order to add space between the days that he helps her.

“He’s been really nice to take his Sunday and he tries to give her enough time in between, give it to her on Thursday and come back on Sunday, I know he has a family,” Janet Pelletier said. “Just to come in on a Sunday, that’s a big thing for me.”

Amanda’s case is different than most students, according to her parents and teachers, because she is self-motivated to get her work done. It is also unique because her AP classes require her to stay on top of the heavy work load.

“I think its hard too because it’s all AP classes, its not like a regular math class or an English class and she pretty much does her own work,” Janet Pelletier said.

“I think its different too because you do work so hard with your classes and everything so theres not a whole lot where he needs to be involved,” Mike Pelletier said to Amanda.

During this ongoing process, Amanda has had to remain focused on her school work because of the heavy workload she has taken on. The school district has provided her with and iPad that allows her some help when it comes to reading and writing. Amanda has also been given an elevator key to assist her with her daily tasks.

Her constant struggle with her in and out vision is something that Amanda has learned to accept as the new normal. She now has to rely on her iPad and help from friends to fully grasp what is happening around her, as her vision can blur without warning, sometimes fading in and out within a matter of minutes.

“Sometimes it’s slower, because I can’t see, but I have my iPad now and it helps me.” Amanda said. “I get all of it done – it’s just harder and a little slower than it usually would have been. But, I mean, I’m still doing it.”

While Amanda had received some help, most of her teachers agree that they have not had to do any extra work concerning her medical situation.

“I have not had to help her at all, which I think attributes to her strength,” Amanda’s AP Literature teacher, Mrs. Patricia Shockley said. “She takes the responsibility herself to cope with the problems she is having.”

Another thing that nearly all of her teacher have commented on is the immense difference among Amanda and other students, not in the medical sense, but academically.

“In my experience, Amanda is definitely not the typical homebound student in terms of the quality of the student,” Mr. Matthew Schott, Amanda’s newspaper teacher said. “Amanda is one of the top students in her graduating class and her health concerns haven’t affected her performance as a writer for the newspaper.”

Despite the obstacles she faces, Amanda’s grades have remained the same. Her teachers and parents all agree that this is because of her strong character and ability to overcome what some would say is the impossible.

“Amanda is a very good student and is very thorough with her assignments,” Mrs. Shockley said. “Something unique that she has shown me, given her medical situation, is the quality of her work, she is one of my strongest AP students.”