Twenty-year-old Kamani Straub says he left Seneca High School just shy of receiving his high school diploma. He’s been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder and bipolar disorder, but he was always able to maintain good grades.
But when he discovered after 14 years the man he thought was his father wasn’t, things started to slip.
This is the first in a series of stories WFPL is airing over the next month profiling former public school students that left school before graduating. The series sheds light on the personal narratives behind statistics and data media often report.
Straub says he left Jefferson County to live with his real father at 14-years-old. When he returned to Louisville for his senior year he was placed in Breckenridge Metropolitan High School, one of the district’s several alternative schools. He says this was partly due to his attention deficit disorder and bipolar disorder.
The Road to Dropping Out
That was the greatest feeling ever–to know that I had finally finished high school. I had planned on going to college. I was going to go play sports. And then I found out two weeks before graduation that I was not going to walk across stage and receive my diploma…..I would say I had senioritis. I had already gotten into senior-year mode and I was like, I can’t do this again. I’ve already done it. So I thought that I could get out and just take my GED by myself. Well, then I started to procrastinate, and procrastinate, and procrastinate.
I was in a broken home. I had a step-dad who I thought was my father up until I was 12-years-old. And when I found out he wasn’t, things went down hill from there. I guess you could say I started acting out, not mostly in school, but just around the house doing different things. Fourteen, that’s when my mom and dad split up and that’s when I met my real dad and that’s when I moved down to Tennessee. And I guess things just–I wouldn’t say they got better–but I guess I learned to deal with having a single parent. Not being able to get everything that you want. Having to make certain sacrifices, pick up things around the house, become the man of the house.
Improving the System
I lived on Preston Highway and we had a thing called a Safe Place that was right across the street. I could go there after school, I did my homework. It was a place I could just be alone. My house–I had me, my mom, my brother and my sister so things aren’t always quiet. And me with ADHD and ADD things have to be quiet for me to focus. And there I could get away, I could focus. There were people that could help me that weren’t there just running the place. They were actually there to help and I could really say that we need more of those. Either have more community centers or have community centers come to the schools after school and have tutoring. I believe that would really help.
This series is part of The Next Louisville education project.